The Mystery of EgyptAir 990
The mechanics of flight remain to many a
NY Times Editorial - February 3, 2000
Behold, I show you a mystery.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be
The links from the TWA 800 downing to the bombing of the World Trade Center, to the Egyptair 990 downing, to Hamas and its State sponsor, Iran, are developed. A former Egyptian army major, former sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces, former CIA operative, and former FBI informant, Ali Mohamed, who worked for Egyptair as a security agent was sitting in a Manhattan cell at the time of the crash accused of being a key associate of Osama bin Laden and helping bomb the U.S. embassies in Africa. Egyptair 990 crashed during a big military exercise in Egypt, BRIGHT STAR '99, which was held from October 27th to November 5th 1999. Bright Star began as a bilateral military exercise between Egypt and the United States, and has since evolved into one of the largest multinational exercises involving U.S. troops anywhere in the world. Thirty-three Egyptian military personnel were on board the aircraft when it crashed. The NTSB prefers to focus on "prayers" in the cockpit and accusing one of the pilots of committing suicide rather than looking for evidence of a criminal act which damaged the tail section. Gen. Issam Ahmed, a senior Egyptian transportation ministry official, said that the plane crashed because of an explosion. He said the cases of both black boxes, located in the tail, were severely damaged, which "confirms that the tail of the plane was subjected to an explosion at the height of 33,000 feet'' because of "an internal or external explosion.'' Ahmed said he believed a missile or bomb caused it.
As EgyptAir 990 prepared for take off from JFK at 1:19 am EST on October 31, 1999 a crew member uttered the following prayer
01 19 54 In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, crew takeoff position.
Three high-speed objects were picked up on radar crossing the aircraft's flight path just before it began its fatal dive. On June 18, 2000 the Chairman of the Egyptian Civil Authority hand delivered a letter (Click for pdf file) to the Administrator of the FAA requesting assistance in identifying these high-speed returns but was denied the information he requested. (For similar reports of high speed objects reported by other aircraft flying into and out of Kennedy airport please read The Tale of the Tapes.) Were these objects missiles fired in the same sequence as that which brought down TWA 800? (See the article "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever").
At the following links one will find a transcript from both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder of the last few minutes of EgyptAir Flight 990. The pilot is Ahmed Mahmoud El Habashy and the co-pilot is Gamil El Batouty.
Below is a timeline of the events depicted in these two links with the author's comments inserted.
01 48 03 The pilot tells copilot he is going to take a quick trip to the toilet before it gets crowded while the passengers are eating.
01 48 04 Whirring sound of electic seat motor is heard. The captain is leaving his seat.
01 48 18 Pilot leaves the cockpit
01 48. 22 Four seconds later there is the first "thunk" sound. The problem that will cause the crash of Egyptair 990 has begun.
01 48 30 Co pilot makes an unintelligible comment which is followed for the next 48 seconds by the sounds of "thumps" and "muffled thumps". The copilot says to himself "I rely on God" the Arabic equivalent of "God help us". He thinks something is wrong and alone in the cockpit he is trying to figure out what is happening.
01 49 18 Whirring sound of electic seat motor is heard again. The captain has returned to his seat. The NTSB rejects this sound as indicating that the captain had returned to his seat.
The NTSB places the pilot's return at a much later time after the plane is already in a steep dive which begs the question as to how the pilot could have returned to his seat under negative g forces.
At this point the pilot had been out of the cockpit for approximately one minute, clearly too short a time to go to the toilet. Presumably, he heard the unusual thumping sounds on his way to the toilet and immediately returned to his seat in the cockpit.
The thumping sounds continue with the copilot continuing to express his concern with the statement "God help us" (I rely on God)
1:49:44 Auto-pilot changes state from "engaged" to "not engaged."
1:49:45 Pitch attitude values decrease.
1:49:47 (Sound of two clicks and two thumps.)
1:49:48 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:49:51 Engine thrust reversed for Engine 1 and, a few seconds later, for Engine 2.
1:49:52 Elevator positions changed to send nose downward.
1:49:53 (One loud thump and three faint thumps.)
1:49:57 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:49:58 Co-pilot: "I rely on God." (Four tones similar to Master Caution aural beeper.)
The copilot is now very frightened and continues to ask for God's help as he strives to determine how to correct the problem.
1:50:00 Co-pilot: "I rely on God
1:50:01 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:50:02 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:50:04 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:50:04 (Sound of loud thump.)
1:50:05 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:50:06 Pilot: "What's happening? What's happening?" This is the point where the NTSB says the pilot is returning to his seat. At this point the captain would have been weightless as will be shown from the NTSB data later in this article.
The pilot has now been back in his seat for about 48 seconds during which time he presumably has put on his seat belts and headgear and begun to check out the problem. After the loud thump two seconds earlier he asks the hypothetical question "What's happening?" twice. He too is mystified by the ongoing thumps which are continuing and when the Master warning aural signal comes on he asks again if his co-pilot has figured out what is happening.
1:50:07 (Sound of numerous thumps and clinks continue for approximately 15 seconds.)
1:50:08 Co-pilot: "I rely on God."
1:50:08 (Repeating hi-low tone similar to Master Warning aural starts and continues to the end of the recording.)
01 50 08 Pilot: What's happening?
01 50 15 Pilot" What's happening, Gamil? What's happening.
Note that the pilot is not saying anything to the effect of "Gamil, what the hell are you doing?" or "Gamil, are you trying to kill us all?"
The pilot is saying that he doesn't know what's wrong and is asking his co pilot if he has any ideas.
At no time during the whole of the transcript does the pilot order the co-pilot to stop any of the actions that he was taking.
1:50:19 (Four tones similar to Master Caution aural beeper.)
1:50:20 Engines are cut off.
1:50:21 Left elevator is set in the direction of the nose up while the right elevator is set in the direction of the nose down.
1:50:24 Speed brake activated.
The pilot still can't determine what the problem is and wonders what is going on. "What is this?" he asks the co-pilot.
1:50:24 Pilot: "What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engine(s)?"
1:50:25 Change and increase in sound. Heard only through first officer's hot microphone system
1:50:26 Pilot: "Get away in the engines."
Four seconds after the pilot asked if the copilot shut the engines, he orders the engines to be shut!
1:50:28 Pilot: "Shut the engines."
The co pilot tells him that this has been done already and replies "its shut".
1:50:29 Co-pilot: "It's shut."
Clearly the plane is in a worsening dive and the pilots are struggling to pull it up
1:50:31 Pilot: "Pull."
1:50:32 Pilot: "Pull with me."
1:50:34 Pilot: "Pull with me."
1:50:35 Last bit of data recorded. Altitude listed at 16,416 feet and airspeed at 458 knots.
1:50:36 Pilot: "Pull with me."
1:50:38 End of recording.
Now let us compare the above interpretation of the timeline with that put out by the NTSB http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2002/aab0201.htm
At 0147:55, the relief first officer stated, "Look, here's the new first officer's pen. Give it to him please. God spare you," and, at 0147:58, someone responded, "yeah." At 0148:03, the command captain stated, "Excuse me, [nickname for relief first officer], while I take a quick trip to the toilet...before it gets crowded. While they are eating, and I'll be back to you." While the command captain was speaking, the relief first officer responded, "Go ahead please," and the CVR recorded the sound of an electric seat motor as the captain maneuvered to leave his seat and the cockpit. At 0148:18.55, the CVR recorded a sound similar to the cockpit door operating.
At 0148:30, about 11 seconds after the captain left the cockpit, the CVR recorded an unintelligible comment. Ten seconds later (about 0148:40), the relief first officer stated quietly, "I rely on God." There were no sounds or events recorded by the flight recorders that would indicate that an airplane anomaly or other unusual circumstance preceded the relief first officer's statement, "I rely on God."
At 0149:18, the CVR recorded the sound of an electric seat motor. (Note from website author - the NTSB ignores this sound as the most likely point when the captain returned to his seat). FDR data indicated that, at 0149:45 (27 seconds later), the autopilot was disconnected. Aside from the very slight movement of both elevators (the left elevator moved from about a 0.7° to about a 0.5° nose-up deflection, and the right elevator moved from about a 0.35° nose-up to about a 0.3° nose-down deflection) and the airplane's corresponding slight nose-down pitch change, which were recorded within the first second after autopilot disconnect, and a very slow (0.5° per second) left roll rate, the airplane remained essentially in level flight about FL 330 for about 8 seconds after the autopilot was disconnected. At 0149:48, the relief first officer again stated quietly, "I rely on God." At 0149:53, the throttle levers were moved from their cruise power setting to idle, and, at 0149:54, the FDR recorded an abrupt nose-down elevator movement and a very slight movement of the inboard ailerons. Subsequently, the airplane began to rapidly pitch nose down and descend.
Between 0149:57 and 0150:05, the relief first officer quietly repeated, "I rely on God," seven additional times. During this time, as a result of the nose-down elevator movement, the airplane's load factor decreased from about 1 to about 0.2 G. Between 0150:04 and 0150:05 (about 10 to 11 seconds after the initial nose-down movement of the elevators), the FDR recorded additional, slightly larger inboard aileron movements, and the elevators started moving further in the nose-down direction. Immediately after the FDR recorded the increased nose-down elevator movement, the CVR recorded the sounds of the captain asking loudly (beginning at 0150:06), "What's happening? What's happening?," as he returned to the cockpit. (Note from website author - The NTSB has the captain returning to the cockpit at a point in the flight were the G forces are going negative. As seen in the next statement at 0150:06 the pilot would have been floating up to the ceiling of the cockpit if he were not already strapped in his seat).
The airplane's load factor decreased further as a result of the increased nose-down elevator deflection, reaching negative G loads (about -0.2 G) between 0150:06 and 0150:07. During this time (and while the captain was still speaking [at 0150:07]), the relief first officer stated for the tenth time, "I rely on God." Additionally, the CVR transcript indicated that beginning at 0150:07, the CVR recorded the "sound of numerous thumps and clinks," which continued for about 15 seconds.
According to the CVR and FDR data, at 0150:08, as the airplane exceeded its maximum operating airspeed (0.86 Mach), a master warning alarm began to sound. (The warning continued until the FDR and CVR stopped recording at 0150:36.64 and 0150:38.47, respectively.) Also at 0150:08, the relief first officer stated quietly for the eleventh and final time, "I rely on God," and the captain repeated his question, "What's happening?" At 0150:15, the captain again asked, "What's happening, [relief first officer's first name]? What's happening?" At this time, as the airplane was descending through about 27,300 feet msl, the FDR recorded both elevator surfaces beginning to move in the nose-up direction. Shortly thereafter, the airplane's rate of descent began to decrease. At 0150:21, about 6 seconds after the airplane's rate of descent began to decrease, the left and right elevator surfaces began to move in opposite directions; the left surface continued to move in the nose-up direction, and the right surface reversed its motion and moved in the nose-down direction.
The FDR data indicated that the engine start lever switches for both engines moved from the run to the cutoff position between 0150:21 and 0150:23. Between 0150:24 and 0150:27, the throttle levers moved from their idle position to full throttle, the speedbrake handle moved to its fully deployed position, and the left elevator surface moved from a 3º nose-up to a 1º nose-up position, then back to a 3º nose-up position. During this time, the CVR recorded the captain asking, "What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engine(s)?" Also, at 0150:26.55, the captain stated, "Get away in the engines," and, at 0150:28.85, the captain stated, "shut the engines." At 0150:29.66, the relief first officer stated, "It's shut."
Between 0150:31 and 0150:37, the captain repeatedly stated, "Pull with me." However, the FDR data indicated that the elevator surfaces remained in a split condition (with the left surface commanding nose up and the right surface commanding nose down) until the FDR and CVR stopped recording at 0150:36.64 and 0150:38.47, respectively. (The last transponder [secondary radar] return from the accident airplane was received at the radar site at Nantucket, Massachusetts, at 0150:34.)
The mystery with which the U.S. press has attempted to lull American citizens on the events surrounding the crashes of TWA 800, Swissair 111 (See The Mystery of SwissAir 111), Egyptair 990, Silk Air, etc. is remarkable. The demise of Egyptair 990 began with a loud thump. Pilot suicide is the explanation offered by U.S. investigators, because the co-pilot constantly said "I rely of God". However, this explanation that can not account for the failure of the flight data recorders at approximately 16,000 feet. As we shall see below a similar explanation was offered for a Silk A ir crash in which the flight data recorders also stopped operating before the aircraft crashed.
But first let's start here .....
February 1, 2000 The Associated Press
While considered the safest period of flying, there recently have been a surprising number of high-profile crashes, and about 900 deaths, when the jetliners were at or near their cruising altitude. But aviation experts emphasized Wednesday that there is no common thread to these accidents - as many as a half dozen since 1996. And while the causes in some cases have yet to be determined, the suspicions range from electrical failure to mechanical control problems to sabotage by a pilot. On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 was climbing gradually after taking off from New York City and well along in its flight when it exploded at about 13,000 feet. All 230 people aboard were killed. While the investigation has yet to be completed, an electrical spark is widely believed to have caused a fuel tank explosion. Last October, Egypt Air Flight 990, a twin-engine Boeing 767, was cruising at 31,000 feet off Nantucket, Mass., when it suddenly dove, and plummeted at breakneck speed into the cold Atlantic, killing all 217 people aboard. The reason for the dive is still a mystery. About two months earlier, on Sept. 2, 1998, Swissair Flight 111, was also cruising along a similar route on a flight from New York to Geneva when it crashed off Nova Scotia, killing the 229 people aboard. While the investigation continues, an electrical problem is suspected. Investigators are still not certain what caused a Boeing 737, belonging to SilkAir, to fall out of the sky from cruise altitude and crash into a muddy river in Indonesia in December, 1997. There is some suspicion the pilot may have crashed the plane in a suicide. And in May, 1996, Valuejet Flight 592, with 110 people aboard, was climbing well beyond its takeoff, though still climbing, when it crashed into the Everglades, (in Florida). Investigators said hazardous cargo caught fire, causing the crash. "We don't see any common threat (sic) in these accidents,'' emphasized Capt. Dwayne Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association".
Yet several facts are clear and reveal why United States' policy towards Iran should change abruptly....
October 31, 1999 The Associated Press
A Boeing 767 plane with 199 passengers aboard disappeared early today on a flight from New York to Egypt. .... Flight 990 took off from Kennedy at 1:19 a.m. and disappeared from radar at 2 a.m. while flying at 33,000 feet ....Weather at Kennedy was good with 3 to 4 miles of visibility and light wind ..... The EgyptAir plane was on a route similar to the one taken by Swissair Flight 111 .... which crashed off Nova Scotia on Sept. 2, 1998, killing all 229 people aboard. Planes on that route fly from Kennedy to Nantucket, then turn north to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland before heading east across the Atlantic. The plane was a Boeing 767-300ER delivered to the airline in September 1989. It had logged over 31,000 flight hours and 6,900 take-offs and landings ..... The United States airline industry went through a fatality-free year in 1998, but this year there has been the crash of an American Airlines jet in Little Rock, Ark., the loss of John F. Kennedy's private plane off Martha's Vineyard this summer and last week's crash of a Learjet carrying golfer Payne Stewart.
Within days of the crash the NTSB had few hard facts about the cause of the crash but because the auto pilot was intentionally disconnected the NTSB appeared to be in a mad rush to get rid of the case to the FBI. NTSB staff intoned that they could find nothing amiss internal to the plane and so the explanation had to be one that had been proposed before in a similar crash - pilot suicide.
November 10, 1999 The Associated Press
The first sign of abnormality aboard EgyptAir Flight 990 came when the autopilot disconnected not long after the plane began what should have been a long period of cruise flight, the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday. NTSB Chairman Jim Hall, giving the first bits of information from the plane's flight data recorder, said that eight seconds after the autopilot disconnected, the New York-to-Cairo flight ''begins what appears to be a controlled descent'' from 33,000 feet to about 19,000 feet. ... Ed Crawley, head of the aeronautics and astronautics department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called such a descent ''extraordinary.'' ''You would not leave altitude unless you are told to do so or there is an air emergency; that is basic piloting,'' Crawley said. ''That means he had some kind of emergency that so distracted him that he did not push the button on the control stick so that he could talk to Air Traffic Control.''
The abrupt descent of EgyptAir Flight 990
was very similar to a SilkAir crash which occurred in December 1997.
This crash occurred in a region of the world where Ramsey Yousef had earlier
planned to down eleven airliners ....
November 29, 1998 Reuters
The first anniversary of Singapore's worst air disaster, in which 104 people perished when a SilkAir jet plunged from the sky, will pass with accident investigators still no nearer any answers to why it happened. .... Families of the 97 passengers and seven crew on board the 10-month-old Boeing 737-300 have anxiously awaited an explanation of why it plummeted into Indonesia's Musi river from a stable altitude of 35,000 feet on a routine Jakarta to Singapore flight. .... The theory of pilot suicide has become prevalent in the absence of hard facts to explain the crash, made more mysterious by the unexplained failure of both "black box'' flight data recorders in the crucial minutes before the crash. .... Diran -- who heads the investigation in line with international convention that gives jurisdiction to the country in which the accident occurs -- said he still did not know why the tail section of the nearly new plane was separated from the main debris by about two and a half miles (four km). "We don't know for sure whether the tail section was the cause or a result of the accident,'' he said.
Is it possible that a "suicide" explanation could be pulled out of the hat again for Egyptair 990? The NTSB and FBI seemed bent on this as the proposed cause. Yet this 'rush to judgement' on the co-pilot's actions reminds one of a similar 'rush to judgement' by the FBI in the case of the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta when Richard Jewell's heroism, like Gamil al-Batouti's, was similarly maligned.
November 14, 1999 BostonHerald.com
The cockpit voice recorder that could reveal the secrets of EgyptAir Flight 990's fatal plunge was recovered from the ocean floor 60 miles south of Nantucket late last night. ..... With mounting evidence suggesting a pilot purposefully put the jet into its fatal dive, and no evidence of mechanical problems, the recorder that tapes cockpit sounds and voices is considered critical to solving the mystery of what brought down the Boeing 767 ...... The Associated Press, also citing an unnamed source, reported the FBI is investigating the emotional stability of the co-pilot. .... .. Information from the already recovered flight data recorder, one of two onboard black boxes, indicates the autopilot on the plane was shut off during a period of normal flight at 33,000 feet. Cockpit controls were then used to pitch the plane into a steep dive at near the speed of sound. The plane's engines were shut off with cockpit controls 20 seconds into the dive. Pilots have said they are mystified by the data, saying the actions do not appear to be standard emergency measures. ... "The question is why they initiated the descent from the very beginning"' said Barry Trotter, a former senior NTSB investigator. "It would have to be something catastrophic which should have triggered the master warning to come on." But the alarm was not triggered until halfway through the dive, and the cockpit crew never reported a problem to air traffic controllers. The circumstances of the plane's descent has led some pilots to speculate about a possible suicide dive. In 1997, a SilkAir Boeing 737 crashed on route to Jakarta from Singapore, killing all 104 people on board. The pilot was described as having personal problems and is suspected of purposely crashing the plane.
November 14, 1999 London Times
Crash investigators believe that a pilot on board EgyptAir flight 990 may have deliberately switched off its engines and sent it plunging into the Atlantic .... Speculation is intensifying among FBI agents that the disaster .... may have followed a suicidal act of sabotage. ....The theory that a "kamikaze" pilot may have been responsible was strengthened by information extracted from the Boeing 767's flight data recorder. Outside experts say the evidence points to the possibility of suicide and mass murder. The speculation has prompted comparisons with the December 1997 crash in Indonesia of a SilkAir Boeing 737-300 in which 104 people died, possibly as a result of pilot suicide. It has been alleged that its pilot was in financial difficulties and had taken out a large life insurance policy shortly before the crash. .... The NTSB's findings so far indicate that after leaving John F Kennedy international airport at 1.19am, the plane followed a normal ascent to 33,000ft before its autopilot suddenly disengaged. Eight seconds later power to the engines was reduced and the aircraft was pushed into a sharp but apparently controlled dive. During the next 20 seconds passengers would have experienced weightlessness. About halfway through this portion of its descent, the plane reached its maximum design speed - equivalent to 86% of the speed of sound - activating a "master warning". ....As the plane continued to plunge at a 40-degree angle, it reached a near-supersonic speed of 0.94 mach before gradually pulling out of the dive, producing a downward force of 2.5 times normal gravity. The recorder shows that the plane's two elevators - flaps on the horizontal tail used to change the angle of flight - then moved in opposite directions. This is a sign of a serious malfunction. It was then that both engines were shut down. Seconds later the plane broke up. ....... The FBI has indicated that it is focusing on the "emotional stability" of one of the co-pilots.
In the Alaska Airlines crash the aircraft was clearly in a powered dive given that the plane was "in negative 3 Gs -- meaning objects in the plane were pulled upward at three times the force of gravity".
February 8, 2000
Before it careened into the Pacific Ocean, Alaska Airlines Flight 261 took two near vertical dives ... data indicates that the passengers endured two terrifying dives, the last one upside-down, in a high speed plunge into the Pacific. The first happened with the plane at 31,000 feet, about 12 minutes before the crash. Something forced the nose down. The jet dropped at a rate of 7,000 feet per minute, three times the normal rate of descent. The speed brake was deployed, and after about a minute Flight 261 regained controlled flight at 24,000 feet. Over the next nine minutes the plane continued in controlled descent from 24,000 to 18,000 feet. Pilots meanwhile extended the plane's sleds and flaps for more than 30 seconds and commented that doing so appeared to make the plane controllable. The crew retracted the sleds. As the flaps began to extend again, data shows the airplane pitching nose down at 26 degrees per second, the pitch increasing to 59 degrees in three seconds and reaching 70 degrees before the nose began to edge up. This put the plane in negative 3 Gs -- meaning objects in the plane were pulled upward at three times the force of gravity ... the final descent from 17,000 lasted just over one minute. Preliminary radar data indicates that at a time basically corresponding to the beginning of the final descent of the aircraft, a piece of the plane may have broken off.
If a similar powered dive was occurring with EgyptAir 990 would it be surprising that a pilot would shut off the engines? Further, if one of the plane's elevators was being deliberately forced up and the other was being forced down, why did the aircraft not enter a "corkscrew" dive? Alaska Airlines Flight 261 did exactly this .......
February 3, 2000 United Press International
National Transportation and Safety Board members told reporters Tuesday night that they interviewed three pilots flying in the area at the time of the (Alaska Air 261) crash Monday and that they all described the jet's fatal plunge as "tumbling," "spinning nose down," "a continuous roll," "corkscrewing" and "inverted."
Pulling the engines' cutoff does not mean that the engines could not be restarted once an aircraft was recovered to level flight ....
November 14, 1999 The Washington Post
Federal investigators, still puzzled as to why EgyptAir Flight 990 went into a steep dive and took 217 people to their deaths, said today they will attempt to re-create the crash sequence on a Boeing simulator and will consider new salvage methods to find the plane's cockpit voice recorder. The increasing amount of information being gleaned from the plane's flight data recorder has only added to the mystery of why a Boeing 767 in smooth flight at 33,000 feet would suddenly go into a dive so abrupt that it left the passengers weightless for 20 seconds.... That wild ride included movement of the left and right elevators in opposite directions, something that rarely happens. These flat panels at the end of the plane's horizontal stabilizer, which make the plane go up or down, can be made to move in opposite directions if the pilots push hard in opposite directions on the control column. This does not prove there was a fight in the cockpit, but that is one possible explanation. Someone also pulled the engine cutoff switches as the plane began to climb out of the dive. That could mean two things: an attempt to shut the engine down, or an attempt to restart a stopped engine. Pulling the engine cutoff is the first step in an engine restart.
Instead of speculating about "pilot suicide", "fights in the cockpit", and maligning a co-pilot who gave his life in an attempt to save the aircraft, the NTSB, the FBI and the news media should "speculate" if stabilzer problems were the cause of the crash of EgyptAir 990 and if so was criminal activity involved ...
November 15, 1999 CNN
Many people in Cairo believe a conspiracy lies behind the crash of EgyptAir Flight .... On the streets and in the cafes, fingers and rumors point in predictable directions -- toward Israel, the CIA, the U.S. military. "No, they are not telling the truth," said one man. "At the time being, you don't expect anybody to tell the truth." It was broadcast that an American official said the plane was hit by a missile, said one store owner .... "Why is America making a coverup?" demanded another man. "Any other country would have already figured out why the plane crashed." .... For days, speculation focused on a possible suicide by the pilot or co-pilot, on a mad struggle for the controls in the cockpit. It was all nonsense, says his sister. "They speculate, everybody speculates," said Didi Farid. "..... Everybody come and say his opinion, but where is the truth? We don't know the truth. Do you know what happened to the plane?" Habashi's sister .... travelled to Rhode Island .... But her stay there did little to relieve the pain of her brother's death. "We were introduced to all those big shots -- who is expert in this, expert in that -- and we don't want to hear about that," said Farid. .... All she is left with are doubts -- and suspicions that something is being hidden. "Nobody knows what happened to TWA. Nobody knows what happened to Swissair. It's the same here. I think we know what they want us to know, that's my feeling," said Farid. Like so many other Egyptians, the pilot's daughter, Enji Habashi, suspects foul play. "It's something intentional and I think this plane has been sabotaged," Habashi.
The official explanation that the pilot in the SilkAir crash committed suicide defies logic when one observes that both black boxes failed and the tail of the aircraft involved in this incident (a 10 month old Boeing 737) was damaged. The tail was found miles from the crash site indicating that it had separated from the aircraft early in the crash sequence. The tail section of Egyptair 990 may also have been damaged as evidenced by the behavior of the elevators which appear to have been operating in opposite directions yet none of the government agencies questions if they were damaged by a criminal act. The Egyptians want the aircraft's tail recovered for a detailed examination. The U.S. government decided to recover the cockpit.
November 23, 1999 CNN
The heavy-duty salvage ship Smit Pioneer is headed to the crash scene and is expected to arrive early December. Its main mission is to retrieve the cockpit of Flight 990.
December 11, 1999 NY Times
After appearing eager last month to turn over the investigation of the Egypt Air crash to the F.B.I., the National Transportation Safety Board said on Friday that it would hold on to the case for at least another month and do a thorough investigation. This was partly because they were looking for a cockpit instrument that could confirm or refute their theory that a co-pilot deliberately crashed the jet. ..... The investigators are particularly interested in a part called a torque tube, which is under the cockpit and connects the controls of the pilot and the co-pilot. They are concentrating on the part because the flight data recorder showed that the elevators, moveable panels at the back of the horizontal tail, moved to different angles, instead of in unison, as they are supposed to. Investigators theorize that this occurred because one pilot was pushing forward, to make the plane dive, while the other pulled, to make it climb. The torque tube is designed to break if 50 pounds of force or more is exerted in opposite directions. If that happened, the tube should show rivets that were shorn off; if the elevators moved separately because of a mechanical problem, the rivets would not be shorn.
Perhaps instead of looking for the torque tube one should be looking for the tail of the EgyptAir flight. The cockpit voice recorder showed that the pilots were caught completely by surprise and it seems a stretch to believe that a "suicidal" pilot would work with his collegue "to try to fix it". ....
November 14, 1999 Associated Press
Cockpit voice recordings from EgyptAir Flight 990 show the pilot and co-pilot talking "like pals'' before something goes wrong and both men desperately try to fix a problem that soon caused the plane to crash into the Atlantic, a source close to the investigation said Sunday. "Something happens. Alarms go off. Both work to try to fix it,'' the source said. "There is some kind of problem that they're dealing with. It gets progressively worse. And the tape stops.'' The recorder was found to be in good condition and it provided about 31 1/2 minutes of data. The tape provides no evidence of an intruder in the cockpit or of any fighting among the crew, the source said. It was reviewed by American and Egyptian officials, including representatives from the FBI.
Both pilots in the Alaska Airlines incident worked for about twelve minutes "trying to fix it" but their problem got progressively worse too.
One of the co-pilots of EgyptAir 990, Gamil al-Batouti, said: "Tawakilt ala Allah" numerous times as trouble with the aircraft unfolded. The expression can be translated literally as "I put my faith in God". Yet this utterance has been presented to the U.S. public as a "prayer" as part of a desperate attempt by the U.S. government to get the EgyptAir 990 incident under the control of the FBI. Yet what could be more natural for a pilot knowing that something was about to destroy his aircraft to say something to the effect: "God help us" as he initiates emergency action to save himself and his aircraft.?
November 16, 1999 Associated Press - Cairo,
Despite an FBI probe into the case, an EgyptAir pilot who often flew with the two pilots assigned to Flight 990 believes neither would intentionally or erroneously cause the plane to crash. Reasons for their actions, including shutting down both engines, can be explained, said Yusri Hamid, if they needed to slow the plane following an explosion or another catastrophic event. "I know them very well and I know their capabilities and their skills," Hamid said Tuesday of Capt. Ahmed el-Habashy and co-pilot Adel Anwar. "Neither would have done such a thing" as intentionally crash the plane. Someone in the cockpit, apparently someone in the copilot's seat , uttered a prayer before the jet's autopilot disengaged and it began its fatal plunge. The wording of the prayer was not immediately disclosed. Hamid dismissed speculation that the prayer could indicate the plane was crashed intentionally as part of a suicide mission. "Any pilot who sees he is heading toward trouble will say religious prayers, whether he is a Muslim or a Christian," said Hamid, a 59-year-old veteran who has clocked some 5,000 flight hours on a Boeing 767. "If the pilot did turn off the autopilot it means there was a problem and he was trying to solve it,'' he said. "If you are in a dangerous position and you do not know what to do, you may do almost anything.'' The flight data recorder shows the plane was cruising normally at 33,000 feet until its autopilot was turned off, its nose pointed sharply down, its throttles cut back and engines shut off. ..... Some American pilots have said they cannot think of an emergency situation that would prompt the crew to take those steps. But Hamid said there were possible explanations, including that the pilots cut the engines to try to slow a downward plunge. "They are going down. The speed is faster and faster. The plane can collapse. They are trying to reduce the speed, so they (turn) off the engines to reduce the speed,'' said Hamid.
November 24, 1999 The Associated Press
Gen. Issam Ahmed, a senior Egyptian transportation ministry official, said today that the plane crashed because of an explosion. He said the cases of both black boxes, located in the tail, were severely damaged, which "confirms that the tail of the plane ... was subjected to an explosion at the height of 33,000 feet'' because of "an internal or external explosion.'' Ahmed said he believed a missile or bomb caused it.
November 24, 1999 Associated Press
A senior Egyptian government official said today an explosion caused Flight 990 to crash last month. He urged Egyptian investigators not to let their U.S. counterparts impose a scenario that a suicidal co-pilot brought down the plane. Early on in the probe, U.S. investigators discounted the theory of an explosion or mechanical difficulties, but the explosion scenario has been the subject of wide speculation here in Egypt. The comments by Gen. Issam Ahmed, an expert on plane crashes who heads the state-owned airline's flight training program, were the first time any senior Egyptian official publicly said an explosion was the cause ...... Ahmed said the Egyptian experts in the United States should concentrate on investigating the tail, which "carries the mystery of the accident." He said the cases carrying the flight data and voice recorders, the so-called "black boxes" in the plane's tail, were severely damaged. "This confirms that the tail of the plane, where the two boxes are located, was subjected to an explosion at the height of 33,000 feet. It was either an internal or external explosion," Ahmed said in an interview. He also said the Egyptian experts should "be on the alert" about reports detailing the suicide theory. "Methods aimed at condemning EgyptAir and its pilots have been taken by preparing public opinion to accept what they [Americans] want to impose, which is the suicide theory," he said. .....Ahmed dismissed the U.S. sources' contention that el-Batouty put the plane into a dive and the pilot rushed into the cockpit and tried to regain control, as was indicated by his pleas taped on the cockpit voice recorder. Ahmed said the pilots' words and actions instead indicated their confusion because something had "happened in the tail, and far away from the cockpit." The two pilots took the right steps, he said, including turning off the autopilot and the engines in an attempt to control the plane.
November 26, 1999 The Guardian Unlimited.
EgyptAir's chief pilot said yesterday that he believed the Egyptian aircraft that plunged into the Atlantic more than three weeks ago had been brought down by either a bomb or a missile that hit the plane's tail. In an interview with the local Egyptian English-language newspaper, the Al-Ahram Weekly, the pilot, Tarek Selim, rejected as "nonsense" the theory that one of the crew had deliberately brought down Flight 990 to commit suicide. ..... "The plane, weighing 174 tonnes, was descending at a speed of 0.86 Mach - close to the speed of sound - or 23,000ft per minute," Mr Selim told the newspaper. "This is three times faster than what is usual in an emergency situation... This could only happen when the tail unit is not there." He said the Boeing 767 tail unit was equipped with a stabiliser that allowed a maximum descent speed of 7,000ft a minute. "It cannot go faster even if the pilot wanted it to, unless the tail unit was not there," the chief pilot said. There are two possibilities that would cause the tail unit to split off: either a bomb was attached to the tail, or it was hit by a missile."
December 2 - 8, 1999 Al-Ahram Weekly Issue No. 458
EgyptAir's chairman, Mohamed Fahim Rayyan, has rejected speculation over the possible causes of the crash of Flight 990 on 31 October. In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, he described the theories and analyses put forward by the press and media over the past month as nonsense. ..... "The aircraft started to descend at a rate of 23,600 feet per minute with a speed that reached Mach 0.92, the speed of sound. When we find out why this plunge happened, we may know what caused the crash," he said. Rayyan expressed the belief that serious damage to the tail unit, caused, perhaps, by a collision with a solid 'body', would explain the rapid descent. ..... Rayyan criticised the rush to judgement by the US press and media, which had attempted to put the blame on EgyptAir and its pilots. "It is highly unlikely that accusations would have been made to build a case for a co-pilot suicide had the airline and crew been American or European. It has been years since the mysterious 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, and the similar unexplained crash of Swissair Flight 111 in 1998. Both remain unsolved, and yet the possibility of pilot suicide has never been raised." ..... "The initial analysis of the cockpit conversations was tailored to explain every word and move in the light of the suicide theory. We introduced another analysis which proved that all the moves the pilots made were completely correct," explained Rayyan. ..... Our argument was that the automatic pilot was disengaged to control the plane after the nose had turned down," Rayyan said. When the speed of descent exceeded Mach 0.86, an alarm was heard, warning against the mounting speed. The engines were then shut down, which is the correct action to avoid a flame-out of the engines, Rayyan added. "When the jet began to dive, the captain said, "Pull with me! Pull with me!" There are no shouts or screams, no threats, no sounds of fighting.
June 18, 2000 The Washington Post
Egyptian authorities have suggested to U.S. investigators that co-pilot Gamael Batouti was not alone in the cockpit when EgyptAir Flight 990 abruptly dived into the Atlantic Ocean last fall. The sounds were recorded after the captain left the cockpit, about a minute before the plane's final dive and 12 minutes into the Oct. 31 flight from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Cairo. The Egyptians also said that damaged parts found in the crash indicate that a mechanical problem could have caused the dive, but U.S. authorities said they doubt that theory. The Egyptian suggestions were part of a meeting in late April between senior Egyptian and U.S. safety officials, including National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall. Sources from both countries confirmed details of the meeting, as well as more recent suggestions that Egyptian investigators have offered on the cause of the crash. The April 28 meeting appeared to be more than just an effort by the Egyptians to persuade the NTSB to consider that a mechanical problem caused the crash. The Egyptians are upset at what they see as a failure by U.S. investigators to consider all the evidence in the crash, compounded by news reports--often based on leaks from U.S. sources--that sometimes use the word "suicide." The Egyptian government and EgyptAir have hired several well-known law firms, public relations firms and former safety board officials, including former NTSB chairman Carl Vogt. But some investigators believe that the Egyptians are losing a war of perceptions, because they have been reluctant to present their theories to the U.S. public. In the April meeting, the Egyptians detailed three main points to the NTSB:
* There is no evidence that Batouti committed suicide. Batouti was in good spirits before the flight, even offering some pills of Viagra, the male impotence drug, to a friend from the stash he was taking back to friends in Egypt.
* If Batouti did initiate the dive, he may have been responding to a sudden mechanical problem or to something he--and possibly another crew member--saw in the cockpit or outside. There is some indication that as the plane dived, there was coordination between two or three crew members working to save the plane.
* The Boeing 767 has experienced problems with elevator controls, and the safety board should consider whether the dive was initiated by an uncommanded downward deflection of the elevators, flat panels on the horizontal tail section that control the aircraft's up and down movements.
In the weeks since the meeting, Egyptian investigators said they have seen marks on one of the six hydraulic actuators that move the elevators, possibly indicating it jammed. If two actuators jam on one elevator panel, Boeing simulations have shown, the elevator could move involuntarily. Four of the plane's six actuators have been recovered. Egyptian sources also said rivets were found sheared in opposite directions on a bell crank that helps transmit commands to the elevator. That also was found on parts of an Aeromexico plane that experienced a sudden, uncommanded elevator movement on the ground, they said. U.S. investigative sources said almost every part of the plane was damaged by the crash, and their metallurgists do not believe that any damage they have seen indicates an actuator jam. Those U.S. sources said Batouti could have controlled the plane by doing what would be natural for any pilot--pulling back on the control column. Flight 990 had four pilots, allowing each rest time across the Atlantic. The cockpit voice recorder revealed that as the plane climbed over the ocean, the captain decided to take a break. U.S. investigators said there was no evidence that anyone other than Batouti was in the cockpit when, according to data from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, someone cut off the autopilot. Six seconds later the plane went into a dive that eventually approached the speed of sound. The Egyptian investigators told the safety board that a voice can be heard on the tape about a minute before the dive, after the captain left the cockpit. They say that voice says either "control it" or "control light." The voice cannot be identified. Those words could mean that someone else in the cockpit might have pointed out an anomaly to Batouti, according to the Egyptian investigators. U.S. investigative sources said voice recorder specialists could not tell what was said. The Egyptians said there is further evidence of cooperation in the cockpit after the captain returned when he, the co-pilot and possibly another crew member were involved in efforts to save the plane. The flight data recorder shows that the dive was initiated by a downward deflection in the elevators as the plane flew at 31,000 feet. The captain returned to the cockpit before the plane descended to 28,000 feet, the Egyptians said, and at about 24,000 feet the plane began to recover from the dive. Shortly thereafter, both engine fuel levers were turned to "off," the first step in restarting engines that had cut off because of the near-supersonic speed, the Egyptians said. But U.S. sources have said this would make no sense if the crew was trying to save the plane. The voice recorder indicates someone said, "Shut the engines." Someone replies, "The engines are shut." Egyptian investigators told the safety board this also indicates cooperation in the cockpit. But U.S. investigative officials said that if crew members were cooperating at that point, why didn't someone advance the throttles, as if trying to gain power, just as someone shut down the engines? U.S. investigators say further proof that there was no cooperation in the cockpit comes just before the end of the voice recorder tape. The two elevators--which normally move in tandem--moved in opposite directions. That could happen if two pilots were commanding the elevators to move in opposite directions. But the Egyptians said that the data recorder at that point is less reliable because of the plane's high speed. U.S. investigators said they believe that the refined data back them up. The Egyptians also asked again the true mystery of the crash: If Batouti did it, why? Batouti, they said, came from a good family, and one of his two sons was about to be married. He had one daughter with lupus, but she was doing well in treatment in California. Batouti was bringing back two tires for a vehicle in Egypt, as well as the Viagra. In general, he appeared to be in good spirits and happy to be going home. The FBI said earlier it could find no evidence to explain why Batouti would deliberately down the plane. So if it did happen, the Egyptians say, it is possible that something he saw influenced him to take the action. The Egyptians noted that radar showed several "primary" targets--planes with the transponder turned off, missiles, flocks of birds or even atmospheric clutter--in the area that night, some of which lasted several minutes and moved at high speed. A "primary" target is any object hit by radar beams that does not have a transponder to report an aircraft's identity and altitude. The Egyptians say that they are not proposing some missile theory but that investigators should look into the possibility that something outside the plane startled Batouti. U.S. sources said all military airspace in the area was "cold" that night, meaning that no military planes or weapons were engaged in training or tests.
There were at least two eyewitnesses to EgyptAir 990's demise. Their observations do not support a 'suicide' theory ....
November 4, 1999 From Newsday (LI) Edition: Nassau
The dull orange glow caught Stuart Flegg's attention in the dark sky of a bracing Halloween night on Nantucket island. And for the next four to five seconds, his eyes tracked the light falling down ... until it vanished into the horizon formed by the ink-black Atlantic Ocean. Hours later, Flegg and his friend Scott Proffitt, who also saw the dime-sized orange spot, concluded they'd viewed the flaming wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 990, which plunged from 33,000 feet at 24,000 feet per minute on what was supposed to be a routine flight from New York to Cairo. .... they called police, and Tuesday, they told their story to the FBI. "What caught my eye was like an orange glow in the sky. And then it was falling rapidly. I mean, it was falling very fast. And then, about halfway down, it started slowing down," Flegg, 32, said yesterday. "And then the flame got a little wider. As it was falling down, it got longer. And then it just kept coming down, going slower, slower, slower and then it just passed over the horizon from where I was." ...... At first, Flegg thought the small ball-shaped glow was a meteor, a comet or a shooting star, but it was moving much too fast. It "didn't look anything like" those things, he said. Proffitt, 22, said the orange light dotting the black sky initially looked like fireworks. "But then I noticed that it was way too far up in the sky to be a Roman candle and too far away," Proffitt said. "It wasn't an extraordinary brightness, but it got our attention. It was orange. If I had to pick a shade, I would say burnt orange." Both men said they heard no sound at all. The men, carpenters who work together, were among a group of about five left after a Halloween party of 40 or so people at the Fleggs'. They were seated in chairs around a backyard fire pit about a mile from the water enjoying the last moments with friends and some beer. Though they cannot pin down the exact time they saw the glow, they said it was between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., when they retired for the night. The plane's signal was lost shortly before 2 a.m. more than 50 miles south of Nantucket. .... "I believe I saw the plane," Proffitt said yesterday. "I mean, there is no other explanation for what I saw. We were facing the right direction, it was the right time of the night, and I know it was not a shooting star. So I definitely believe I saw the plane." The men told their story Monday to local folks and to two local television crews. The next day, two FBI agents showed up with a lot of pointed questions. "They asked me how the lawn was set up with the yard chairs," said Stuart's wife, Monica Flegg, 34, who had gone to sleep before the crash. "I showed them the yard and showed them how it was set up. Then they interviewed Stuart and Scott, separately." Flegg said he told them he was facing south-southeast, with Proffitt sitting to his left. He said he saw it first, tapped Proffitt on the shoulder, and said, "Look at that." He told them there is very little light pollution off Nantucket, that you can see a "long, long way," and that he often sits in his backyard and watches airplanes on similiar flight patterns. Sometimes he can even see their shining lights. Flegg acknowledges that he and the others had had "a couple beers" that night, but, "I mean, we weren't falling over backwards, stone drunk." "I know what I saw-that's what I told the FBI guys," Flegg said. "I don't care what they say, I know what I saw. It was definitely that plane going down that I saw. It was definitely on fire." Officials say none of the wreckage recovered so far shows evidence of fire.
The FBI may prefer that Flegg and Proffitt be perceived as unreliable witnesses given their consumption of "a couple of beers", yet the wreckage does indeed indicate that the "fire" they saw did not come from the aircraft. Both of them describe the EgyptAir 990 incident using phrases such as: orange glow .... dime-sized orange spot . .... moving much too fast ... fireworks ... flame .... Roman candle .... no sound .... not a shooting star.
Flegg stated that there is "no other explanation for what I saw" yet the descriptions he and Proffitt provide are remarkably similar to numerous eyewitness descriptions of TWA 800's destruction.
They raise the question: Was Flight 990, like Flight 800, brought down by a missile? ...
November 26, 1999
EgyptAir's chief pilot thinks a bomb or missile downed the airline's Flight 990 after blasting its tail, rejecting theories that a suicidal pilot or mechanical glitch caused last month's crash off the U.S. East Coast. "There are two possibilities that would cause the tail unit to split off. Either a bomb was attached to the tail or it was hit by a missile,"' Tarek Selim told the state-owned Al-Ahram English-language weekly before heading off to New York to join Egyptian crash experts. ....... "I flew the Boeing 767, which is one of the best aircraft, for 12 years without any major problems,'' he said. "Any problem, and I mean any problem, apart from an explosion, can be handled and the plane will remain under control.'' "In all circumstances, the pilot certainly will have plenty of time to talk, contact control points and act according to instructions,'' he said. "In case of a serious emergency, all the pilot has to do is say 'Mayday' and the distress call will be heard by all airports...but they did not have the chance to utter this word.'' Investigators have said Flight 990's tail broke off during its dive, with its right and left elevators, which make the plane ascend and descend, pointing in different directions. .... Referring to media speculation that a co-pilot had deliberately set the airliner on a suicidal dive, Selim said: ''I believe the speculation fueled by leaks of information from the cockpit tape recorder are ridiculous.''
On July 12, 1999 Paul Angelides gave an account of what he saw during the TWA 800 downing to Cmdr. Donaldson. In the interview Angelides stated:
Paul Angelides: After work on July 17, 1996, I went to our ocean front summer rental house to have dinner with my wife and 1 year old son. After dinner my wife was bathing our son before putting him to bed so I decided to go to the ocean side deck to enjoy the view. As I walked through the sliding doors to the deck a red phosphorescent object in the sky caught my attention. The object was quite high in the sky (about 50-60 degrees) and was slightly to the west and off shore of my position. At first it appeared to be moving slowly, almost hanging and descending, and was leaving a white smoke trail. The smoke trail was short and the top of the smoke trail has a clockwise, parabolic shaped hook towards the shore. My first reaction was that I was looking at a marine distress flare which had been fired from a boat. I said to myself, someone must be in trouble. I quickly realized that the object was too large and then began moving too fast to be a distress flare. I followed the object as it moved out over the ocean in the direction of the horizon. I lost sight of the object, as it was about 10 degrees above the horizon. In the same area of the sky out over the ocean, I then saw a series of flashes, one in the sky and another closer to the horizon. I remember straining to see what was happening as there seemed to be a lot of chaos out there. There was a dot on the horizon near the action, which I perceived as a boat. The flashes were then followed by a huge fireball, which dropped very quickly into the sea. I yelled to my wife. Come here quickly you've got to see this.
Some other eyewitness accounts of TWA 800 show the use of similar phrases ....
Douglas Bushton: The object looked just like a red roman candle. No noise was heard.
Lou Desyron: "We saw what appeared to be a flare going straight up. As a matter of fact, we thought it was from a boat. It was a bright reddish-orange color".
Tom Dougherty: "I looked up because it sounded like thunder. I kept looking trying to figure out what it was. And that's when I saw a flare come off the water. The flare, trailing orange flame, shot up roughly at a 45 degree angle, then rapidly increased it's angle of ascent.... Then it appeared to strike something." After the missile hit the plane, the plane glowed very bright as part of it fell and then, after becoming luminescent, it burst into flames. This was the strangest thing I ever saw. Everyone calls it a 'missile theory,' but when you see something, you know what you see, and I didn't see a theory."
Naneen Levine: "The little red dot went up like this [witness draws trajectory] it sort of curved, it came to just a point where I thought little fireworks were going to come down and it would just fade and be a flare. It looked like a dot, it didn't look like a fiery streak, it looked like a little red dot that went up. It didn't leave a tail or anything behind, just a little dot. Like I thought it was something on the beach going straight up".
Why is it that the NTSB and the FBI can't believe eyewitnesses? They pulled in the CIA in the TWA 800 case to try to prove that a couple of hundred of them didn't see what they said they saw and that a center fuel tank exploded from a spark whose source is yet to be discovered. One of the hundreds of TWA 800 eyewitnesses, Roland Penney, discussed his interview by the FBI with Cmdr. Donaldson. Penney's comments, presented at the Accuracy in Media conference on October 18, 1997, records that his neighbor who also witnessed the missile attack on TWA 800 was so exasperated at not being believed that she commented, like Flegg, about not being under the influence of alcohol .....
Penney: "They said: "Are you sure you didn't see something going down ... and not going up"? ...... I said "No.... Gosh sakes I ain't that stupid .... I ought to be able to tell if something is going up in the air or going down in the air .... No and I said I'm not changing my mind about it ... I'll stick to that until I die. I said I saw something going up and I said there was no question in my mind. I said I'm telling you what I saw. I'm not telling you what I think I saw. I said I saw something and..... that's the way I am stating it. I'm not trying to make up a story just to be on the news or whatever... I said I have no desire to be on the news - I don't even want to get involved in this stuff anymore. But I said there was definitely something going up and then it went behind ... I said I'm assuming it's a cloud and then we saw this white light.
Donaldson: OK. And when we were off .. when the recording was off ... you mentioned that a neighbor ... we won't mention the name .. but had a similar experience apparently with an FBI interview that they were trying to get her to say that it was going the other way...
Penney: That's right
Donaldson: And she talked to you on the phone and got a little bit ....
Penney: She was upset because she says I'm a grown woman - I don't drink and she says it wasn't because I had alcohol in me. She says I saw something definitely going up and there is no question in my mind about that and she says I'm not changing my mind either.
One TV analyst seems to have realized that the EgyptAir 990 pilots were scared half to death ....
November 14, 1999 ABCnews.com
ABCNEWS’ aviation analyst John Nance said that, based on the data known so far, he believed that the rapid rate of the plane’s dive raised questions about what might have been going on in the cockpit in the moments before the crash. ..... “The problem now is that when you look at this dive and as I say, it’s something that no airline pilot, no rational airline pilot, would do voluntarily something either had to scare these pilots half to death to get them to put that aircraft into that condition, or something else was going on that was not voluntary,” he told ABCNEWS’ This Week today. Barry Trotter, a former senior investigator with the NTSB and commercial airline pilot, said that while a pilot might turn off an engine if there was a fire, it would be highly improbable for both engines to be on fire at the same time. “The question is why they initiated the descent from the very beginning,” said Trotter.
Egyptair 990 would not represent the first time airline pilots have had to "duck" because of high speed objects approaching their aircraft ....
January 6, 1995
4 SHa`baan 1415 A.H. Report on January 26th,
1995 in 'The Sun' newspaper.
Two pilots thought their last moment had come as their British Airways jet headed for mid-air collision - with a high speed UFO. Terrified fliers Roger Willis and Mark Stuart ducked down in the cockpit when the brightly lit mystery craft appeared only yards in front of them at 13,000ft over the Pennines. Captain Willis and First Officer Stuart immediately checked with air traffic control. But they were told theirs was the only plane on the radar. Their flight from Milan, Italy to Manchester Ringway was 17 minutes from touchdown .... An inquiry was launched .... but a CAA spokesman said: "We have not been able to trace the aircraft involved." The pilots refused to comment. A colleague said: "They are high grade, sensible guys. Everyone's talking about what they saw." Theories that the UFO could have been a new military aircraft were discounted by experts. A spokesman for Jane's Defence Weekly said: "We know of nothing at all being developed that could account for this sighting."
The BA incident occurred on the ninth anniversary in the islamic calendar of the bombing of Libya by U.S. jets taking off from England ...
April 14, 1986
4 SHa`baan 1406 A.H.
U.S. jets bombed Libya killing 37 people, including Gadhafi's adopted daughter.
In August 1997 two Swissair pilots had to "duck" at 23,000 feet over Long Island ......
September 27, 1997 (Neue Zuricher Zeitung)
Swissair has revealed that an unidentified flying object almost collided with one of its planes over the United States last month. The captain and his co-pilot said an oblong and wingless object shot past at great speed - only fifty metres away from their Boeing Seven-Four-Seven. The American air traffic authorities said it was probably a weather balloon.
The U.S. preferred a "balloon" to a "rocket" explanation despite the pilots objections .....
March 5, 1999 www.cbcnews.com Ottawa
A Swissair pilot reported his 747 jet was nearly hit by an unidentified flying object, possibly a missile, near the area off New York where a TWA airplane crashed in 1996, The Canadian Press has learned. Swissair Flight 127 was cruising at 23,000 feet on Aug. 9, 1997, when the pilot interrupted an address to passengers to report the near miss by a round white object, says a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "Sir, I don't know what it was, but it just flew like a couple of hundred feet above us," he radioed Boston air traffic control. "I don't know if it was a rocket or whatever, but incredibly fast, opposite direction." "In the opposite direction?" asked the controller. "Yes sir, and the time was 2107 (Greenwich mean time). It was too fast to be an airplane." The controller asked another aircraft if its crew saw anything like a missile in the area. The reply was negative. He then asked the Swissair pilot again how far above the plane it was. "It was right over us, right above, opposite direction, and, and I don't know, two, three, four hundred feet above. All that I can tell, 127, is that (we) saw a light object, it was white, and very fast." ..... "It passed over the cockpit, slightly right of centerline. If it had been any lower, it would have hit the aircraft. The sun was at the pilot's back. He apparently did not have time to take evasive action. ..... The first officer, whose flight time totalled 7,500 hours, said he was bent over to adjust the volume on his headset when he looked up and saw the object pass overhead "very quickly." "It was close enough that he ducked his head because he thought it would hit them. . . . He thought it passed about 100 to 200 feet above the airplane and between the right side of the fuselage and the No. 3 engine." The first officer said no markings were visible and the object appeared to be the size of a thumbnail held at arm's length. He said he had previously encountered a weather balloon over Italy, and the object did not look like the balloon.
The captain (Bobet) and the first officer (Grunder) were interviewed the following day in Boston by the FAA, the FBI, and the NTSB. The FAA report quoted the captain as stating that the object "appeared to be moving" and "the object did not appear to have an exhaust plume, or resemble any characteristics of a rocket". The captain denied that these were his statements in an interview with the staff of the UFO Research Coalition which conducted an investigation of the incident...
The UFO Research Coalition Report on
Swissair 127 ISBN 1-928957-00-5 (1999) Pages
Captain Bobet: 'The object appeared to be moving...' is a wrong statement. I insisted on the very high speed of the object at different occasions. So, the object did not APPEAR to be moving, it WAS moving. "In addition, the object did not appear to have an exhaust plume, or resemble any characteristics of a rocket ...." I NEVER mentioned the word "rocket" (or missile). I would have done so only if I was sure that we encountered one. Even though it was (and still is) very tempting to use the word, I will never use it as long as I am not 100% sure it was a rocket. Thus, I certainly did not say that "the object DID NOT resemble any characteristics of a rocket." This is pure speculation from the FAA.
Asked about the FAA report that United Airlines Flight 176 had seen a weather balloon and that was the FAA's opinion of what the Swissair pilots saw, Captain Bobet commented....
The UFO Research Coalition Report on
Swissair 127 ISBN 1-928957-00-5 (1999) Page
As already mentioned, that was one hour after we spotted the object ... (this is a) ridiculous statement from the FAA!
The U.S. government received a warning in June 1998 that Osama bin Laden was planning imminent attacks ...
August 10, 1998 International News Electronic
American officials said that the State Department received information on June 12 that bin Laden was threatening "some type of terrorist action in the next several weeks".
Was one of these attacks related to another Swissair incident in mid-June 1998 which Bobet revealed was reported to Swissair but not to the American authorities? In this case the pilots didn't have to duck .....
The UFO Research Coalition Report on
Swissair 127 ISBN 1-928957-00-5 (1999) Page
In July 1998, Bobet advised us that Swissair had experienced another UFO sighting in the vicinity of JFK International Airport in mid-June. The airplane had been airborne only several minutes, and was en route to Zurich. All three cockpit crew members saw the object. No report was made to Air Traffic Control authorities at the time, and apparently no notification of U.S. authorities was made subsequently. Only Swissair management was briefed by the crew.
But there was a similar incident in England also in mid-June which did involve ducking ...
June 12, 1998 BBC News September 15, 1999
Published at 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
A UFO that narrowly avoided colliding with a passenger jet flying from London's Heathrow Airport has baffled aviation experts. The metallic grey-coloured object was spotted by the pilots of an Oslo-bound McDonnell Douglas MD81 plane on 12 June 1998, and passed just 20-50 metres from them. The captain said the object was the size of a small aircraft, while the co-pilot described it as a "bright light, very close". Reporting to an air traffic controller, the captain said "a flare or something passed 20 feet from our aircraft", but nothing had been recorded on the radar screen. The pilot later filed a near-miss report, known as an airprox, in which he said the object looked similar to a fighter. But a report by the Civil Aviation Authority found no explanation for the incident, which has also confounded local military experts and local police. "Air traffic controllers were certain that even a very small aircraft would have been detected, particularly on Heathrow radar," said the report. Although the evidence of the unnamed airline's crew is considered to be reliable, the report notes that they only caught a brief glimpse of the object.
These incidents with two Swissair aircraft should lead one to be suspicious of why Swissair Flight 111 from JFK crashed on the tenth anniversary in the Islamic calendar of the bombing of PA 103 ....
September 2, 1998
11 Jumaada al-awal 1419 A.H.
Swissair jet from JFK crashes off Nova Scotia not far from the city of Halifax
December 21, 1988
11 Jumaada al-awal 1409 A.H.
Pan Am 103 bombed over Lockerbie.
The fire is being blamed on an entertainment system wiring problem yet the heat was so intense that aluminum was melted. Strangely, on board the aircraft was a Saudi prince whose family Osama bin Laden is attempting to overthrow.
September 5, 1998 The Hindu Online
A Saudi Arabian prince was among those killed in the Swissair plane crash off Canada. The English-language Saudi Gazette quoted a Swissair source confirming that Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Saad Abdul Rahman al-Saud was among the 229 passengers and crew killed when the plane plunged into the Atlantic near Nova Scotia on Wednesday. Prince Bandar, 45, a former Saudi Air Force pilot, was on his way to visit his father who was receiving treatment in Switzerland.
And the Saudi royal family sees itself in a state of siege ....
October 7, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic
Edition) Issue 502
Bombers fail to undermine the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia is waiting for its next bomb. Platoons of heavily armed soldiers ring the royal palaces in the capital, Riyadh; security guards cruise its opulent shopping centres, and the 5,000 American servicemen who are the focus of the terrorists' wrath are moving to a new impenetrable compound in the heart of the desert. ... From his exile in Afghanistan, the government's most feared enemy ... Osama bin Laden, has declared jihad, or holy war, against the foreign presence. Quietly, embassies and barracks are tightening security......Pessimists draw close parallels between Saudi Arabia and its neighbour Iran, where the Western-supported Shah was overthrown in 1979 by a broad-based Islamic revolution ......(For further details see "The Mystery of SwissAir 111)
President Mubarak urged the United States government to look for a link between Egyptair 990 and TWA 800 ......
November 8, 1999 WorldTribune.com
A confidant of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is angering the United States with repeated suggestions that the United States was behind the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, in which 217 people, including 33 Egyptian military officers, were killed. "The circumstances of this tragedy remain suspect," Samir Ragab wrote in his daily column Saturday in the government-owned daily Al Gomhuriya. Ragab is editor of the newspaper. .... "The U.S. authorities have announced that the inquiry will last a long time which means the results of the investigation will amount to nothing and will perhaps never be made public." Earlier, Mubarak and several of his ministers urged U.S. authorities to search for a link between the EgyptAir crash and the TWA crash in 1996 in the same area off the Atlantic coast. The TWA crash has never been resolved.
November 9, 1999 WorldTribune.com
Egypt's government-owned press has now raised the possibility that EgyptAir Flight 990 was downed in an attack meant to stop the training of Egyptian airmen in the United States. The government Al Akhbar daily said the presence of 33 Egyptian officers on board the doomed flight on Oct. 31 has raised suspicion of foul play. "Sabotage is thus highly possible," the newspaper said on Sunday. Egyptian military sources said the officers were training to fly the Apache AH-64D helicopter. The officers in the crash included a brigadier general. Writer Mohamad. W. Kandil said he did not expect the United States to acknowledge sabotage and that an investigation of the crash would take years. "However, in most sabotage operations, as in the case of the Pan American airliner which exploded several years ago over Lockerbie, Scotland, no confirmed culprit is brought to justice, only suspects are, and this after investigations have lasted quite a long time coming through," he said. Over the weekend, a confidant of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak angered the American officials with repeated suggestions that the United States was behind the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, in which 217 people, including the 33 Egyptian military officers, were killed. .... Ragab's accusations began on Tuesday when he said in an editorial in both Al Gomhuriya, and its sister paper the Egyptian Gazette, that Washington was trying to cover up U.S. military responsibility for the deadly accident. "Insinuations of possible cover-up by U.S. authorities, potential intelligence secrets, deliberate delays and obfuscation in the investigation ..... are insulting," Kurtzer said in his letter, published on Saturday. "They fly in the face of deep friendship and partnership between Egypt and the United States. It is irresponsible to engage in the baseless speculation about the EgyptAir Flight 990 tragedy contained in [your] column. Such idle musings show disrespect to American and Egyptian victims and the tireless efforts put forth by American and Egyptian individuals and institutions to ease the suffering of the families and determine the true causes of the crash."
The government seems to classify all claims from terrorists concerning TWA 800 and EgyptAir 990 as not being "credible" ...
December 6, 1999 UPI
"The FBI has not become aware of any intelligence information that a terrorist group might be responsible," Valiquette (a spokesman for the FBI) said by phone on Monday. In the days following the crash (of EgyptAir 990), there were several claims of responsibility from purported terrorists, "but they're not credible at all," Valiquette said.
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"
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.
Mr. Valiquette 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!
The reason for Mubarak's suspicion of "potential intelligence secrets" related to EgyptAir 990may be understood by remembering that in a Manhattan jail cell sits a Special Forces sergeant with a very strange relationship to the U.S. government, to Osama bin Laden, and to those who bombed the World Trade Center.....
October 30, 1998 The New York Times
Federal prosecutors have filed secret charges against a former sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces who is suspected of switching sides in the war against terrorism and joining the global campaign to attack Americans mounted by the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. ...... They draw new ties between bin Laden and a circle of Islamic militants in Brooklyn, who were implicated in the World Trade Center bombing and a plot to blow up the United Nations and other New York landmarks. The former Special Forces sergeant, Ali Mohamed, was charged in September in a closed court hearing in Manhattan, and remains in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center .... Mohamed, 46, served for three years at the Army's Special Forces base in Fort Bragg, N.C., and was honorably discharged from the service in 1989, according to military records and interviews. His records show that his duties ranged from clerical work to instructing soldiers headed for the Middle East about Islamic culture. A witness at the 1995 trial of the Islamic militants accused of plotting to blow up New York landmarks testified that Mohamed traveled to New York while on active duty and provided military training to local Muslims preparing to fight the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The witness said the students included El Sayyid Nosair, the Egyptian immigrant convicted of killing Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League, in 1990. .... At some point in the 1990s, the secret charges against Mohamed suggest, he became enmeshed in bin Laden's group, which is known as al Qaeda.. .... Federal prosecutors in New York have been building a case against bin Laden's organization since at least 1995. Their efforts intensified in August after bombers believed to be linked to the wealthy Saudi attacked the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. In the months that followed, agents from the FBI fanned out around the world, seeking to arrest anyone with financial or operational ties to bin Laden or his network. Prosecutors have asserted in court papers that bin Laden's organization grew in part from the Alkifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, where prosecutors say a cadre of Islamic militants gathered to plot a series of terrorist attacks.
Mubarak probably also knows that Mohamed served as an intelligence officer in the Egyptian army and that he worked as a "security adviser" for Egyptair before being admitted to the U.S. under a special CIA visa program.
October 30, 1998 The New York Times
Mohamed's military record and other documents describe an unusual career. He was born in Kafr El Sheik, Egypt, and attended a military academy before serving as an officer in Egypt from 1971 to 1984. The records say he is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, English and French, and worked for 18 months as a security adviser to Egyptair after leaving the Egyptian army. Mohamed entered the United States in September 1985 and became a permanent resident soon after. He enlisted in the Army in August of the following year. .... He spent his three years in the Army with the Special Forces units at Fort Bragg, which include both military trainers and elite commando units, such as the Army Rangers or Delta Force. Mohamed, the records say, was involved in training and lectured soldiers being deployed to the Middle East on the region's culture and politics. He also helped make and appeared in some training videotapes about the Middle East. In one tape, he is dressed in civilian clothes, and fluently answers a series of questions from several higher-ranking officers about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. .... The Boston Globe reported that Mohamed had been admitted to the United States under a special visa program controlled by the CIA's clandestine service. It said he had also made claims of having worked for the agency.
Though the CIA later claimed to have dropped Mohamed like a hot brick, he seems to have had no difficulty in entering the United States and cultivating "useful relationships with the American government." Even the F.B.I. required his services .......
December 1, 1998 The New York Times
In mid-1984, a former Egyptian Army officer with an engaging manner and a gift for languages approached the C.I.A. in Egypt with what seemed an intriguing offer: He volunteered to be a spy. The agency tried him out, but the Egyptian flunked. He had made contact in Germany with a branch of Hezbollah, the Middle Eastern terrorist group, and told its members that he was working with the CIA, a betrayal the agency quickly discovered. Soon after, C.I.A. officials branded him untrustworthy and cut off further dealings with him, suspecting that he wanted to help the terrorists spy on Americans, United States officials said. The agency discovered the next year that the former officer, Ali A. Mohamed, was trying to enter the United States, and officials put his name on a State Department "watch list" intended to prevent terrorists and other security threats from getting visas, an American official said. When Mohamed evaded this precaution and persuaded an American Embassy official to give him a visa, the C.I.A. issued a second warning to other federal agencies that a suspect person might be traveling to the United States. The warnings were not heeded. Mohamed emigrated to the United States and in the next decade cultivated a range of useful relationships with the American government. He enlisted in the army and served with one of its most elite units. Then, in the early 1990's, he became an informant for the F.B.I. Today, he is imprisoned in a high-security cell in New York City on suspicion of conspiring with Osama bin Laden.
The U.S. government claims now not to have known he was an Islamist extremist and are unable to confirm or deny the facts of his case .....
December 1, 1998 The New York Times
The story of Mohamed's dealings with the United States, based on interviews with associates, government officials and former army officers, suggests that he was inexorably drawn to intrigue and the shadowy gambits of espionage. Along the way, several officials said, the American authorities missed opportunities to grasp the depth of his allegiance to Islamic extremism. United States officials said Mohamed forged ties with bin Laden as early as 1991. He was adept at obtaining false documents for bin Laden's organization, the officials said, and assisted with logistical tasks, like bin Laden's 1991 move from Afghanistan to the Sudan. The State Department granted Mohamed's visa to enter the United States in 1985, only a year after the C.I.A. severed ties with him. State Department officials, reached late in the day Monday, were unable to confirm or deny accounts of the circumstances surrounding Mohamed's entry to the United States.
The CIA claimed it didn't want him in the country - The U.S. army put him in one of its elite units and then discharged him honorably even after he went to New York to 'train' the group that eventually bombed the World Trade Center. Was he an undercover agent monitoring terrorist planning in New York? Was he acting in an undercover role when he left an army base to go to Afghanistan and assist Osama bin Laden to "kill Russians"?
December 1, 1998 The New York Times
While serving in the army as a supply sergeant assigned to Special Forces, his aggressive support for Islamic causes and open curiosity about intelligence matters raised eyebrows among colleagues. In the most notable of those incidents, Mohamed took a few weeks' leave from the army base at Fort Bragg, N.C., and told friends that he planned to join the mujahedeen rebel forces in Afghanistan and "kill Russians." After returning, he boasted of his combat exploits to colleagues at the army's Special Warfare School, prompting two of his supervisors to file reports with Army officials at Fort Bragg and with Army intelligence. An Army official, citing inaccessibility of the records, said Monday night that he could not address how the service had investigated the reports or whether it had taken any action against Mohamed. The official added that because the matter had entered the court system, comment would be inappropriate. American officials now believe that Mohamed did fight with the Afghan rebels. A year later, shortly before he was honorably discharged from the army, Mohamed began traveling to the New York City area and training a circle of Islamic militants in basic military techniques. Members of the group, which was centered in Brooklyn, were later convicted of plotting a series of terrorist attacks in New York, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Mohamed was upset with the Egyptian government and apparently aligned himself with Sheik Rahman ....
December 1, 1998 The New York Times
American officials say (Mohamed's) duties with the Egyptian army included recruiting informants for his country's intelligence service. His later years in the military coincided with a time of great turmoil in his native land .... radicals in the Egyptian military ..... followed by brutal crackdowns on local extremists and their followers. Among the targets were Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who eventually emigrated to Brooklyn, where he was convicted of conspiring to blow up the United Nations and other New York landmarks. Mohamed later confided to friends in the U.S. Army that he was deeply upset by the Egyptian government's hard line, and that he felt aligned with the Islamic radicals who carried out the assassination of Sadat. ... In March of 1984, having attained the rank of major, he left the military, according to his American military records. According to government officials, it was roughly about this time that Mohamed made his first overture to the C.I.A. in Egypt. The offer was tentatively accepted by the agency, which was gearing up for a global fight against terrorism. The bombings of the American Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 put pressure on the agency to recruit more agents in the Middle East. Those demands were stepped up in March 1984, when terrorists linked to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah kidnapped William Buckley, the C.I.A. station chief in Beirut. After the C.I.A. agreed that he could work with the agency, Mohamed made contact with a group of Hezbollah adherents in Germany, according to American officials. Within weeks, the agency learned that Mohamed had taken that opportunity to reveal to the terrorists that he was working for the CIA. ... Shortly after bombs exploded outside the American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last August, killing more than 200 people and wounding more than 1,000, Federal prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed Mohamed to testify before a grand jury. He flew to New York in September, made his appearance, and was arrested. Officials believe he was on his way to the Middle East.
Hence, when Egyptair 990 was destroyed the U.S. government was holding one of bin Laden's associates, a former employee of Egyptair, for trial in Manhattan.
May 20, 1999 New York Times
The government indicted a former U.S. Army sergeant Wednesday on charges of collaborating with Osama bin Laden in a global conspiracy to kill Americans abroad, and asserted publicly for the first time that the group linked to bin Laden had plotted to attack the U.S. Embassy in Kenya as early as 1993. ... Offering many new details about Mohamed, the indictment portrays him as a crucial figure in bin Laden's organization as early as 1990, just one year after his honorable discharge from the Army. ....For the last eight months, the government had been negotiating with him to win his cooperation in the broad investigation of bin Laden and his organization. But those talks ultimately broke down and he eventually pleaded guilty to several charges.
October 20, 2000 International Herald
A former U.S. Army sergeant pleaded guilty Friday to helping plot the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa, saying Osama bin Laden once showed him where a suicide bomber could cause the most damage. The former sergeant, Ali Mohamed, 48, became the first person to plead guilty in connection with the bombings that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Mr. Mohamed said he met with Mr. bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire who has been portrayed by the U.S. government as the mastermind of the bombings, after checking out potential American, French, British and Israeli targets in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1993 and preparing a report containing photographs and sketches. ''Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American Embassy and pointed to where the truck could go as a suicide bomber,'' Mr. Mohamed said. Mr. Mohamed, who entered the courtroom in leg shackles, stood in his prison blue uniform as he pleaded guilty to five counts. He admitted he conspired with Mr. bin Laden and others to murder Americans anywhere they could be found, to attack the U.S. military in Somalia and Saudi Arabia, to kill Americans at unspecified embassies and to conceal the conspiracy. He said the object of the conspiracy that he joined in the late 1980s was to force the United States out of the Mideast. Mr. Mohamed, a native of Egypt, was among 17 people named in an indictment that resulted from the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Mr. Mohamed left the U.S. Army in 1989 after three years of service. In the military, he earned a Parachute Badge and an M-16 Expert Badge, teaching soldiers in the Special Forces about Muslim culture. In entering his plea, Mr. Mohamed read from a statement in which he admitted he helped secretly move Mr. bin Laden from Pakistan to Sudan and trained members of his terrorist organization, Al Qaeda. ''The objective of all of this was to attack any Western target in the Middle East,'' Mr. Mohamed said.
October 21, 2000 NY Times
Mr. Mohamed offered new detail on the web of relationships that he said existed between Mr. bin Laden's organization and other terrorist groups, like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Mr. Mohamed said he arranged security for a meeting between the head of Hezbollah and Mr. bin Laden. He said that Hezbollah also provided explosives training for Mr. bin Laden's group and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The Egyptian group also obtained weapons from Iran, he said. In late 1994, Mr. Mohamed said, he was called by the F.B.I. and asked to fly back to the United States to talk about the coming trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian cleric who was later convicted of conspiring to blow up the United Nations and other landmarks. "I flew back to the United States, spoke to the F.B.I., but didn't disclose everything that I knew," he said. In 1998, after the embassy bombings, Mr. Mohamed said, he was planning to go to Egypt and then to Afghanistan to meet Mr. bin Laden. But it was then that he was subpoenaed before a grand jury in New York. "I testified, told some lies, and was then arrested," he told the judge.
When TWA 800 was destroyed it had already sentenced one of bin Laden's associates, Sheik Rahman, and had another associate, Ramsey Yousef, on trial in Manhattan .....
An associate of bin Laden is in custody in Seattle charged with importing materials into the United States that had also been found in Ramsey Yousef's apartment in the Phillipines where Yousef had been planning to bomb airliners ....
December 18, 1999 Seattle Times
A 33-year-old Algerian man arrested in Port Angeles was charged yesterday with smuggling enough nitroglycerine into the U.S. to make a large explosive device. Court papers said Ressam was carrying four timing devices consisting of Casio watches mounted on circuit boards with a 9-volt battery. A former chief of counter-terrorism at the Central Intelligence Agency said last night that the timing devices and use of nitroglycerine are the "signature devices" of groups affiliated with Afghan-based Osama bin Laden. "These are devices we have seen before," said Vincent Cannistraro, "They were used among groups affiliated with bin Laden in attacks in the Philippines and at an apartment bombing in Moscow." .... The use of a Casio watch in the homemade timing devices found in the car in Port Angeles, the use of the two 9-volt batteries combined with the type of explosive found, suggest that whoever made those devices has ties to bin Laden, Cannistraro said. .... "This particular device is associated with the bomb-making methodology taught at the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan," Cannistraro said. Ressam was planning to stay just one night at the Best Western Loyal Motor Inn at 2301 Eighth Ave. and then fly Wednesday to New York on a flight connecting to London.
Note the interesting references below to "conveyances" in the indictment of Ressam ...
January 21, 2000 USA Today
A federal grand jury filed a terrorism conspiracy indictment against two Algerians Thursday. The nine-count indictment, which supersedes previous federal charges, accuses Ahmed Ressam and Abdelmajid Dahoumane of conspiring since 1998 ''to destroy or damage structures, conveyances or other real or personal property within the United States.''
What "conveyance" would Ressam have been interested in bombing other than an airliner
Another bin Laden associate hails from Florida ....
May 22, 1999 The New York Times
Under cloak of secrecy, the government has taken another suspect into custody in the investigation of Osama bin Laden .... The suspect, Ihab M. Ali, was charged on Wednesday with perjury .... in a closed hearing in U.S. district court in Manhattan soon after he was asked to testify before a federal grand jury that has been investigating the bombings and what the government has described as a worldwide terrorist conspiracy led by bin Laden. Few details could be learned about Ali, who is said to be from Orlando, Fla. ..... The case of Ali may be following a similar track to that of Mohamed, who was held secretly for eight months after his arrest last September as prosecutors sought to win his cooperation in the investigation. Ultimately, those talks failed, and Mohamed was indicted publicly. .... The arrest of Ali, whose citizenship status could not be learned, brings to six the number of people known to be in custody in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in the investigation of bin Laden. Another eight suspects, including bin Laden, have been charged but not apprehended. Another suspect is awaiting extradition from Britain.
Osama bin Laden could be betrayed by Mohamed but that is unlikely to happen when one has lived in a friend's house ....
June 5, 1999 NY Times
A former United States Army sergeant accused of conspiring in terrorist acts told the F.B.I. after last year's embassy bombings in Africa that he knew the people who carried them out, but he refused to identify them .... Ali A. Mohamed, was indicted last month after talks with the Government broke down. The discussions were held to determine whether he would cooperate with the Federal investigation into Osama bin Laden..... In another interview with the F.B.I., in October 1997, Mohamed said he had lived in bin Laden's house in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1994, and had trained bin Laden's bodyguards after an attempt was made to assassinate bin Laden.
Ali from Florida was squeezed .....
August 1, 1999 Washington Post.com
Deep inside the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan, a taxi driver from Florida named Ihab M. Ali sits in the same high-security cellblock as five men accused of plotting the twin truck bombings that shattered two U.S. embassies in East Africa last August. Ali hasn't been charged in the case, but prosecutors think he may know something about it. And they're squeezing him. Since they offered him immunity from prosecution and he still refused to testify to a grand jury, he is charged with contempt of court and held under unusually tight conditions, with just one hour a day outside his cell. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have hauled Moataz Hallack, the "imam" or prayer leader at the Center Street Mosque in Arlington, Tex., and Khader Ibrahim before a grand jury to answer questions about their links to Hage, a fellow worshiper at the mosque. The FBI is also looking into a pair of wire transfers Ibrahim sent to Hage in Africa, one for $10,000 from a car accident settlement, the other for several hundred dollars from a sale of African semiprecious stones. .... At one point in the indictment, prosecutors allege that Hage, when he was still in Kenya, received a document in 1995 about Rahman's trial in New York. He was directed to hand-deliver the document, the indictment says, to Osama bin Laden. It had arrived from California. The sender: Ali A. Mohamed. ..... Shortly after the embassy bombings, those papers say, Mohamed also told an FBI agent that "he knew who had carried out the recent bombings but would not provide the names to the United States government." At the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, the taxi driver from Orlando (Ihab M. Ali ) lives under the same maximum security conditions as Mohamed, Hage and other jailed defendants in the embassy bombings case, even though he hasn't been charged in the conspiracy. Ali left the United States in 1989 and spent several years helping Afghan refugees on the Pakistan border before returning to Central Florida. Beyond the possible Afghan connection to supporters of bin Laden, prosecutors have yet to explain why they have chosen to squeeze Ali. But something is known about al Qaeda's ties to Orlando, which involve Hage, the Texas tire store manager. In February 1997, the indictment states, Hage, then in Kenya, sent a coded fax to an unnamed "co-conspirator in Orlando" saying that he had just returned from a meeting with bin Laden's military commander, Muhammed Atef, in Pakistan. Five days later, according to the document, the co-conspirator replied in code with an offer of support for bin Laden. Another coded message from the co-conspirator in Orlando followed five months later, the indictment says. This time, there was a warning: "Be careful about possible apprehension by American authorities."
But he wouldn't cooperate ......
September 13, 2000 NY Times
Ms. White's office filed a new indictment in the terrorism case. The indictment charged a former taxi driver from Orlando, Fla., with perjury and criminal contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The defendant, Ihab M. Ali, 38, had been held on civil contempt charges for 16 months at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan for his refusal to testify in May 1999. He has defended his position on religious grounds. Prosecutors have offered few details about Mr. Ali. In the letter to Judge Patterson, Ms. White's office described Mr. Ali, a naturalized American citizen, as a sworn member of al Qaeda, which it says is a terrorist group led by Mr. bin Laden and "responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people." The indictment said that prosecutors were also seeking to determine if Mr. Ali was taking part in terrorist activities by al Qaeda when he trained as a pilot in Oklahoma in 1994, or when he traveled abroad. Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis of United States District Court in Manhattan ordered Mr. Ali held without bail pending further proceedings. In the brief hearing, Mr. Ali entered no plea. One of his lawyers, Ashraf W. Nubani, said by phone that his client denies any wrongdoing.
Within hours of the Egyptair 990 crash, as was the case with TWA 800, the U.S. government was at pains to discourage all discussion about terrorism and to declare that there were no 'credible' warnings about the Egyptair 990 downing. Yet one of the warnings that it dismissed following the downing was one of the warnings that it had acted upon prior to the crash .....
October 31, 1999 The Associated
A month ago, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert to airline and airport security personnel after agencies received an unconfirmed warning that a bomb would "soon be used'' on a flight departing from Los Angeles or Kennedy airport in New York....... Asked about the alert, David Leavy, spokesman for National Security Council, told The Associated Press, "I don't want to speculate on this until we have information.'' .... In a Sept. 24 "information circular,'' the FAA said several U.S. agencies received a warning by letter in August "that a bomb or explosive device with 'spiral expansion' would soon be used on a flight departing from either Los Angeles airport or New York's JFK airport.'' The circular said the informant "identified himself as Luciano Porcari,'' and noted that "an individual with this same name hijacked an Iberian Boeing 727 during a flight from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on March 14, 1977,'' before being overpowered and arrested. The alert said the writer said "three of these devices were smuggled into the United States between 1992 and 1993, and that the devices cannot be detected on a metal detector because of the PVC (plastic) composition.'' The FAA circular said a Luciano Porcari was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Jan. 25, 1979, but later escaped. In August 1981, he threatened to hijack another aircraft unless he was paid $250,000. He was subsequently arrested in Italy and sentenced to nine years in prison on Jan. 27, 1982. The circular said he was released on Aug. 12, 1982, and his whereabouts were unknown. In the warning received by letter "to several U.S. government agencies,'' the informant "claimed that between 1975 and 1983 eight of the devices were manufactured, that only three remained and that one was in the U.S. He also said he had warned various U.S. authorities about the device before the July 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island and the September 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Newfoundland.
Much eyewitness evidence indicates that TWA 800's demise came as the result of a missile attack. One should not be surprised therefore to learn that flights out of JFK are sometimes diverted by air traffic controllers to avoid "rockets". EgyptAir 990 did not travel on the same path as TWA 800 as this diagram shows.
November 1, 1999
EgyptAir's Boeing 767 fell from the sky sometime early Sunday morning - at about 2 a.m. Later Sunday morning, NewsMax.com editor Christopher Ruddy was on United flight #976, which departed JFK at 9:15 a.m. headed for London. At about 10 a.m., Ruddy put on his headset. He clicked through the music channels and tuned in to transmissions between his United plane and air traffic control in the United States. "Air traffic control was advising planes to change their flight paths, giving out new coordinates and altitudes for planes on the flight paths over the Atlantic," Ruddy recalled the conversation he overheard. "At one point, a crew member of one of the planes radioed air traffic control to ask why the change. Air traffic control responded that 'there are rockets being fired in the area.'" "I heard early that morning before boarding my plane that there was a missing EgyptAir plane," Ruddy said. "The conversation I heard on the plane really struck me, as did the controllers' use of the word 'rockets.'"
Air traffic controllers are diverting airplanes out of JFK airport and talking about "rockets" because there have been numerous missile attacks on aircraft departing the New York metropolitan airports. For example on March 17, 1997, subsequent to the TWA 800 downing, a missile was observed by Northwest Airlines 775, US Air 1937, Delta 2517 and Northwest Airlines 361. Northwest Airlines Flight 775 was traveling from Newark to Minneapolis and Flight 361 from Laguardia to Minneapolis. Both flights departed at 6:55 PM and reported the missile about 15 Minutes into their flights. Note the height that the missile reached according to the pilot of NWA 775:
NWA 775: Air Center it looks like we see
ah - this is Northwest 775 - on a southerly heading - a missile or something.
Do you know anything about that?
Controller: Northwest 775 - you see a what?
NWA 775: It appears to be a missile on the south of our course here - straight south of us - off our left - it's climbing and heading south.
Controller: Due south of your position, heading south?
NWA 775: Yea, and climbing rapidly.
Controller: Going through about what altitude now?
NWA 775: Oh man, it's like over 30,000 and on its way up. It was a rocket or a missile and I don't know - it's out of sight now.
Controller: You think it was a rocket or a missile?
NWA 775: Affirmative. It was extremely bright. Anybody else in the area I'm sure would have seen it.
For further details on the above incident, on other missile incidents, and on a similar diversion of TWA 884 flying out of JFK due to a missile report in November 1996 four months after the TWA 800 downing please refer to The Tale of the Tapes.
Let us return for a moment to the TWA 800 downing on July 17, 1996 .....
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.
Within a year it was believed that with FBI agents in several key countries, including Egypt, the skies would be safer ...
July 13, 1997 The Associated Press
FBI Director Louis Freeh finds the nation's skies safer and its law enforcement authorities better prepared for terrorism a year after TWA Flight 800 exploded. Since 1993, when Freeh took over, the FBI has quietly been improving its relationships abroad. Taking a global view of terrorism and the need to share information with other countries, Freeh has added agents in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and other countries...
The telephone claim from Tampa, Florida mentioned above leads to some observations on the leader of a militant Islamic group and his activities in Florida ....
November 1, 1995 Electronic Telegraph World
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. ..... Palestinian police have already jailed Mr Shallah's brother, Omar, for 25 years for inciting Palestinians to commit suicide attacks against Israelis.
Four years later the group in Florida was still active under the supreme command of Osama bin Laden....
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., had said in Federal District Court in Manhattan last month that testifying would be "a major sin" because the Koran prohibited Muslims from giving testimony that might harm other innocent people. Ali said he feared that if he testified, bin Laden would retaliate against him, or his family in Egypt.
One part of the government of Iran supports the Islamic Jihad and Hamas while the other attempts to woo the United States .....
March 11, 1996 The Electronic Telegraph
Despite its wholesale support for Islamic terrorist groups worldwide, Iran is attempting to improve relations with the West - in some cases with notable success. .... Iran's support for Hamas, for example, involves training terrorists and providing substantial financial backing. According to Western intelligence agencies, large numbers of Hamas supporters have gone to Iran for special terrorist training. Hamas receives substantial financial support from the Department of Islamic Liberation Movements, which is run from Teheran by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei The instructors are veterans of Hizbollah, the Lebanese Islamic fundamentalist movement that pioneered suicide bombings in the mid-1980s with its attacks on the American embassy and marine barracks in Beirut. In addition, Hamas receives substantial financial support from the Department of Islamic Liberation Movements, which is run from Teheran by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, who is opposed to President Rafsanjani's policy of trying to reach an accommodation with the West. The fund pays millions of dollars each year to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups charged with implementing Ayatollah Khomeini's legacy of exporting the Iranian revolution through the Muslim world ..... In addition, Iran directly funds and controls Islamic Jihad, an offshoot of Hamas which is headed by Ramadan Shallah, an economics graduate from Durham University. Although Islamic Jihad consists of only 200 to 300 terrorists, unlike Hamas it rejects any notion of seeking a political dialogue with either Arafat's Palestinian Authority or the Israelis. The arrangement between Teheran and Islamic Jihad is simple. Teheran provides the funds in return for Islamic Jihad carrying out successful terrorist attacks against Israel. Hence, only four days after the Iranians met with Mr Shallah in Damascus, an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber killed himself and a group of innocent Israelis at a shopping centre in Tel Aviv last Monday. For this Mr Shallah can expect to be handsomely rewarded by Teheran.
The day after the Egyptair 990 downing President Clinton headed for Oslo to meet with Barak and Arafat in a ceremony to honor the assassinated Rabin and start the Middle East peace process into its final and most difficult phase.
November 1, 1999 The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Ehud Barak and US President Bill Clinton flew to Oslo yesterday in advance of tomorrow's three-way summit with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat aimed at jump-starting the final-status talks, which are formally set to begin next week. Clinton, who will be the first sitting US president to visit Norway when he arrives this morning, is seeking to move the peace process forward on the sidelines of ceremonies marking the fourth anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Clinton will meet separately today with Arafat and Barak. Tomorrow, the three will meet in the first three-way meeting of US, Israeli and Palestinian leaders since December.
Despite American overtures that the U.S. and Iran should make amends, the Iranian hardliners have pushed ahead with their plans to disrupt all Middle East peace negotiations. This event in August 1999 has special significance given the Barak - Arafat resumption of negotiations...
August 15, 1999 The Electronic
Iran has dramatically increased its funding of a radical Palestinian Islamic group in an attempt to sabotage the resumption of Middle East peace talks. In the past few weeks Iranian intelligence has given an estimated £3,000,000 to the militant Palestinian group Hamas to fund terrorist attacks on Israeli targets. The money, which was transferred into the bank accounts of Hamas officials based in Damascus at the end of July, was the first in a series of monthly payments the Iranians have agreed to make to Hamas in return for a marked increase in terrorist activity against Israel. .... The Iranian move follows the election of the Israeli Labour leader as prime minister. Mr Barak is committed to breaking the stalemate in the peace process that developed as a result of the uncompromising policies adopted by his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu. Since becoming prime minister Mr Barak has made a number of encouraging remarks that suggest he is keen to resolve the main outstanding issues, namely an all-embracing deal with the Arab world and a peace treaty with Syria. Such a prospect is regarded with alarm by Teheran's Islamic hardliners. Despite attempts by Mohammed Khatami, Iran's "moderate" president, to improve relations with the West, Teheran remains implacably opposed to attempts by Arab leaders to reach a lasting agreement with the Israelis. Previous attempts by the Israelis and Palestinians to reach agreement were undermined by a series of devastating suicide bomb attacks by Hamas activists against Israeli targets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. .... But following a series of secret meetings with senior members of the Hamas leadership, Iranian intelligence agents are now hoping to fund a new round of terrorist attacks. Iran is particularly interested in trying to forge an alliance with Hamas leaders based in Syria and Lebanon, as opposed to the "indigenous" Hamas leadership based in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, headed by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. A serious rift has developed between the rival Hamas camps, with the "external" leadership fundamentally opposed to any peace deal with the Israelis. A series of meetings in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, resulted in Iranian intelligence officers and Hamas representatives from Syria and Lebanon agreeing that any attempt to negotiate a peace treaty between Israel and the Arabs was "contrary to the laws of humanity". They resolved to launch a series of terrorist attacks designed to try to prevent a successful conclusion to the peace process. ....... Iran's hardliners believe that a high-profile terrorist campaign against Israel - which is relatively cheap to fund - will divert attention from Iran's domestic political difficulties and help bring a modicum of stability to its troubled economy.
November 8, 1999 The Jerusalem Post
Despite yesterday's pipe bomb attacks in Netanya which injured 34, Prime Minister Ehud Barak vowed to push ahead with the final-status talks that begin in Ramallah at 10 this morning. "Israel's fight against terror," he said, "is like a boxing match... You punch, and you get punched. At the end, however, I assure you there is going to be a knockout." Barak stressed that severe as the attack was, he does not intend to slow down the pace of the peace process because of it. ..... The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, believes that Iranian-backed militants carried out the attack in Netanya. In a communique, Taib Abdel Rahim, secretary-general of Arafat's office accused Iran of being behind the attack. In a meeting in Teheran some two months ago, Iran encouraged Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hizbullah to carry out attacks to derail the final-status talks, West Bank Preventive Security chief Col. Jibril Rajoub said yesterday. He said that it is obvious the attack was aimed at the peace process. The attack came one day after Hamas' military wing issued a leaflet threatening more terror attacks on civilians.
If one examines the United States' problems with terrorism, Iran consistently pops up in the center ....
September 26, 1998 The New York
Federal authorities charged Friday that a person described as a senior deputy to Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile suspected in last month's bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, made significant efforts on behalf of the bin Laden group in 1993 to develop nuclear weapons. ..... The allegations, concerning Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, also assert that bin Laden had an official agreement with the Iranian government and with Sudan's ruling party to oppose the United States, and suggested that the United States had penetrated the bin Laden organization and learned detailed information in 1996. .... The government also asserted for the first time in court papers that the Iranian government had entered into a formal three-way "working agreement" with bin Laden and the National Islamic Front of the Sudan to "work together against the United States, Israel and the West." The front is the ruling party in Sudan. Members of bin Laden's organization, al Qaeda, sent emissaries to Iran and some of its members received explosives training in Lebanon from Hezbollah, the terrorist group backed by the Iranian government, prosecutors said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The government also said that during the time when the working agreement was being negotiated, Salim met with an Iranian religious official stationed in Khartoum and also traveled with al Qaeda members to Tehran to arrange for training by Iran in the use of explosives. The allegations against Iran come at a sensitive time, since Tehran is currently trying to improve its relations with the West and is also at odds with the Taliban, the dominant group in Afghanistan, which is protecting bin Laden. .... The authorities also acknowledged for the first time .... that the FBI had won the secret cooperation of an admitted terrorist in al Qaeda as early as 1996, and obtained extensive information about the group from the asset, who was not identified. .... The document does say that the information from the source was provided to the FBI in the late summer and fall of 1996, raising questions about how much the government knew about the bin Laden group in the months leading up to the bombings. ...
July 25, 1997 ERRI Risk Assessment Services - Daily
Intelligence Report Vol. 3 - 206
Exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden remains hidden somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan ... (he) has set his sights on and has sworn to bring an end of U.S. influence in his native Saudi Arabia and the Islamic world. Counterterrorism analysts say that bin Laden is working with terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and its patron Iran. Kenneth Katzman, the terrorism analyst for the U.S. Congress, said, "I think you have an 'atomic bomb' brewing between bin Laden, Hezbollah and the Iranians. ...... Bin Laden reportedly made his militant contacts during the Afghan war. He then set up terrorist training camps in Sudan and financed attacks against the moderate governments of Algeria, Egypt, his native Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The U.S. government prefers to forgive State-sponsored terrorism in return for "rapprochment" .....
November 15, 1999 NEWSWEEK
As Iran's islamic leader rallied demonstrators last week against reformist rapprochement with the United States, new evidence emerged tying Iranian officials to the truck bomb that killed 241 U.S. marines in Beirut 16 years ago, as well as to the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. .... Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk told Congress last month that while there is "information about the involvement of some Iranian officials" in the Khobar bombing, none of it would hold up in court. But an official with access to the material says, "We have hard evidence on the Iranian government's role." CIA sources say terrorists received money and passports from Iran and that Iranian agents were casing American Facilities in 1995. Despite the evidence, lawmakers are concerned that Iran will go unpunished. "My big fear," says Kansas Sen. Dam Brownback, "is we won't pursue it because of some rapprochement with Iran."
In Britain Mr Shallah raised funds and had contact with Saudi dissidents trying to overthrow the Saudi Monarchy.
March 11, 1996 The Electronic Telegraph World
Britain is now the undisputed overseas fund-raising and educational headquarters for Hamas, Israeli authorities claimed last week. Apart from raising millions of pounds to support terrorist operations and publishing anti-Zionist propaganda, the Israelis say Hamas supporters in London are also helping to orchestrate terrorist attacks. Documents supporting the charges have been passed to British intelligence by Jerusalem. The best example was provided by an American activist jailed in Israel for supplying arms to Hamas. In his confession to the Israeli security forces he said he was sent from Chicago to London to receive his orders from a Hamas commander called Abu Obeida. According to Israeli intelligence, Abu Obeida has masterminded a series of terrorist attacks, including the abduction and murder of Israeli soldiers and bomb attacks against civilians. ...... Another example, cited by the Israelis, of how Britain is used as a safe haven by Hamas terrorists concerns the case of Ramadan Shallah, the recently appointed head of Islamic Jihad, the Iranian-financed offshoot of Hamas which carried out last Monday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv in which 11 Israelis, most of them children, died. Israeli intelligence officials claim that up to 50 per cent of Hamas's funding comes from Britain ...... Today Israeli officials are deeply concerned about the activities of Filisteen al-Muslima (Islamic Palestine), Hamas's official monthly magazine which is published in London, and the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, also known as Interpal. Israeli intelligence officials claim that up to 50 per cent of Hamas's funding comes from Britain. ....... Mr Howard is currently trying to expel a leading Saudi dissident who is attempting to mastermind the overthrow of Saudi Arabia's ruling family from his London headquarters. Israeli officials now believe that the British Government will suffer similar embarrassment over the activities of Hamas. MI5 confirmed last week that they were investigating alleged links between Hamas and Interpal.
Egyptair 990 crashed during a big military exercise in Egypt, BRIGHT STAR '99 which was held from October 27th to November 5th 1999. http://www.af.mil/news/Nov1999/n19991105_992045.html Bright Star began as a bilateral military exercise between Egypt and the United States, and has since evolved into one of the largest multinational exercises involving U.S. troops anywhere in the world. This year's exercise also included France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Jordan. Recall also that on board Egyptair 990 were thirty-three Egyptian military officers.
November 2, 1999 The Associated
The Pentagon revealed Monday that 30 (actual number was 33) Egyptian military officers were on board (Egyptair 990). Among the officers was at least one brigadier general, according to administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity. According to the Pentagon, the officers were returning home after routine training that is part of the extensive military exchanges between the United States and Egypt.
The Egyptian military personnel who apparently boarded the aircraft in Los Angeles, may be the reason why the FBI has had some interesting calls of responsibility and why it has developed some "intriguing possibilities" ......
November 11, 1999 The Associated
Hundreds of federal agents continue to gather evidence related to the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, working out of the spotlight in the event that the catastrophe turns out to be the result of a criminal act. .... The FBI said about 250 agents are investigating, including 150 agents in Newport. Mawn is one of the bureau's pioneers of modern day terrorism investigative techniques. He supervised the first New York FBI-led terrorism task force in 1979. ...... Agents also have been examining intelligence reports, looking at court-ordered wiretaps of specialized terrorist groups to see if anything in the intercepts has gained relevance because of the crash. The FBI also has set up a telephone hot line to field tips. In its first week, the FBI received 85 calls, including about a dozen claiming responsibility for Flight 990. "Although some have been of interest to us and we are following up, there is absolutely nothing I would characterize as being very significant or of particular relevance at this time," Mawn said. The EgyptAir criminal probe has produced intriguing possibilities but no smoking gun, Schiliro said. About 30 of the 217 people aboard were from the Egyptian military including three high-ranking officers, all of whom had undergone mechanics and electronics training in California for helicopters purchased by the Egyptians. The officers and their luggage were believed to have been checked with metal detectors before they boarded the plane in Los Angeles.
The French and Egyptians have numerous complaints about Islamic groups in Britain when bombs are planted in Paris and tourists are killed in Egypt .....
November 27, 1997 The New York
Forty people accused of helping Algerian Islamic militants plant bombs that killed eight people and wounded more than 170 in Paris in 1995 went on trial this week. They are charged with conspiracy to support a terrorist campaign to get the French government to drop support for the Algerian government......... The defendants .... were arrested two years ago, after French commandos and the police killed one of the suspected ringleaders of the bombings, Khalid Kelkal, near Lyons and arrested hundreds of Algerians or people of Algerian origin suspected of being part of an underground support network for the Algerian Armed Islamic Group in France. ...... Three of the defendants in this trial -- identified as Joseph Jaime, David Vallat and Alain Celle -- are French citizens who converted to Islam and underwent military training in Afghanistan, prosecutors said. ..... The French authorities say the operations here were financed from Britain, where the Islamic group was able to publish a newsletter. The French press often rails against Britain for its perceived laxity regarding Islamic militants who are said to find sanctuary in England. French newspapers gave prominent display recently to similar charges by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after the massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor last week.
November 21, 1997 New York
The militant Islamic Group, which has claimed responsibility for the strike that killed 58 foreign tourists in Luxor, issued a statement Thursday taunting the Egyptian government, which it has said was the real target of the attack. The organization, the largest Islamic militant group in Egypt, said it might be willing to halt its military operations "for a while." But the group said it would do so only if the government took steps that Egypt has repeatedly rejected, including halting its security crackdown against the militants and severing relations with Israel. ....... As part of the price for a suspension of its attacks, the group demanded in Thursday's statement the release of thousands of prisoners, including its spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who remains in an American jail after his conviction in connection with the plot to bomb the World Trade Center and other prominent targets.
When Pakistan took action against Egypt's Islamist Fundamentalists, associates of Sheikh Rahman and his bin Laden sponsor were not averse to destroying the Egyptian embassy.
November 20, 1995 World News The Electronic
A huge car bomb destroyed the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad yesterday, killing at least 15 people, including an Egyptian diplomat. More than 60 people were seriously injured. Three Islamic militant groups said they carried out the attack. The International Justice Group made its claim in a fax to an international news agency, demanding the release of the militant leader Sheikh Omar Rahman from an American jail and of an Islamic leader missing after being held in Croatia. The Jamaa Islamiyya and Al-Jihad, the two main groups behind militant violence against the government of President Mubarak, claimed the blast in separate telephone calls to international news agencies in Cairo. It was apparently in retaliation for the extradition from Pakistan of Islamic terrorists wanted in Egypt .......In recent months Pakistan has extradited to Egypt at least five Islamic fundamentalists wanted in Cairo for trying to topple the regime of President Mubarak. An Arab ambassador in Islamabad said the Egyptian embassy had received several threatening telephone calls. Thousands of Arab fundamentalists trained and fought for the Afghan Mujahideen during the Eighties war against Soviet troops occupying Afghanistan. The Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, has frequently promised to extradite Arab fundamentalists, but hundreds are known to be still hiding out along the lawless Pakistani-Afghan border.
Nor were they averse to destroying U.S. embassies when some of its members in Albania were handed over to Egypt ...
August 7, 1998 The Associated Press
Terrorist bombs exploded minutes apart outside the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania today, turning buildings into mountains of shattered concrete and leaving burning hulks of buses and cars. More than 50 people were killed and 1,000 injured, officials said. The State Department had no official comment on casualties but there were believed to be six dead Americans, perhaps more, all in Nairobi. More than 40 people were killed and 1,000 wounded in the Kenyan capital alone, said Red Cross spokeswoman Nina Galbe. Witnesses said at least nine were killed and 16 hurt when a car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Embassy in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. ''There was no warning and there has been no claim of responsibility,'' said State Department spokesman Lee McClenny. ''They were terrorist attacks.'' The Islamic Jihad, a successor to the group that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, vowed last week to strike American interests because some of its members were arrested in Albania and handed over to Egypt, according to a report Thursday in Al-Hayat, an Arabic-language newspaper in London. ...
August 7, 1998 EmergencyNet News "Instant Updates" and News
Two bomb explosions on Friday targeted the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Police in both countries say that at least 50 people have been killed and more than 400 others have been wounded. At about 1035 hours local time (735 GMT), a huge blast was heard throughout the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. A few minutes later, another explosion was reported in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. ..... U.S. officials refused to speculate on who was responsible for the blasts, but on Thursday, Arab news media reported that the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, had vowed to "take revenge against the U.S." which it blames for the arrests of a number of Egyptian Islamists while they were in Tirana, and for their subsequent extradition to Egypt. .... In a communique released by the group, they stated that: "We are interested in briefly telling the Americans that their message has been recieved and that the response, which we hope they will read carefully, is being prepared. Because we -- with God's help -- will write it in the language that they understand." Dr. al-Zawahiri was a participant in the establishment of the "World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders" which was allegedly established by Osama bin-Ladin.
Argentina is upset too since like the French their own citizens are being recruited to do some dirty work sponsored by the Iranians ...
November 23, 1997 New York Times
In the three years since the bombing of a Jewish community center here killed 87 people and wounded hundreds, the (Argentinian) government has made little progress in identifying those responsible for the attack. The authorities have said that it is highly unlikely they will ever catch the bombers, who they believe are Muslim militants. But they have high hopes of capturing what investigators call the "local connection" -- the Argentines who investigators have said provided the attackers with the vehicle, explosives, intelligence, immigration documents and other support. ...... investigators said that the family of a former police commander who has been charged with supplying the vehicle used in the attack received $2.5 million a week before the bombing reduced the Argentina Israeli Mutual Association community center to a heap of rubble. ......While the origin of the money is unknown, investigators said they believe it was payment from terrorists for .... help. Ribelli, two deputy commanders and an inspector of the provincial police force were arrested last year and charged as accomplices in the bombing. .... "It's a very important piece of the puzzle that we've tried to assemble for three years." ..... Investigators said they are now seeking to learn the origins of the $2.5 million. .... Leaders of Argentine Jewish groups, who have complained that the investigation is moving too slowly, said the recent congressional disclosures confirm their suspicions that the provincial police were deeply involved in the attack. "No one pays $2.5 million only for the delivery of a van," said Ruben Beraja, chairman of the Argentine Jewish Groups Federation. ..... The government has come under pressure from Jewish groups to exhaust all possibilities in investigating the community center blast and to prevent future terrorism. The attack followed a 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy here in which 29 people were killed. That case has also not been resolved. Today, Argentine Jews live in a virtual state of siege. Synagogues and Jewish schools are protected by police, barricades and guard dogs.
August 8, 1998 The New York Times
The F.B.I told Argentina today that it believed Iranian Embassy officials were involved in the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center in which 86 people were killed. Officials gave Interior Minister Carlos Corach the findings of 40 agents who traveled to Argentina earlier this year to investigate the bombing, which blew apart the country's largest Jewish community center, in the heart of Buenos Aires. The attack followed the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, which killed 29 people. ..
Let us follow bin Laden and Hamas to Brooklyn where events in Argentina and Paris were to be repeated ....
August 4, 1997 TIME.com
The FBI has linked two suspects in a Brooklyn suicide-bombing plot to the militant Mideast group Hamas. Palestinian security officials think the two suspects could be members of a new group, financed by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, which takes its orders from Hamas or another Islamist group.
The Brooklyn group knew that their colleagues had brought down TWA 800 and told their story to the FBI. It preferred not to believe them ....
July 12, 1998, NY Times No Flight 800
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.
Yet following the money trail leads directly to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, Ramsey Yousef and bin Laden.
August 2, 1997 Electronic Telegraph Issue
A leading associate of a sworn enemy of the West is now in custody in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he is providing information about his former boss's Islamic fundamentalist activities. Details have been passed to MI6 and to the CIA at Langley, Virginia. United States intelligence sources yesterday named the informant as Abu Fadel, the terrorist alias for Sidi Tayyib. He handled the distribution of Osama bin Laden's vast wealth as the "godfather" of anti-American terror groups. Just how he ended up in Riyadh is uncertain. US officials, who have found the Saudis difficult to deal with in the matter of terrorism, will not say if he was captured or was working as a double agent for the desert kingdom. All they will disclose is that he has been in Saudi hands since the middle of May. There is also a report that a second aide to bin Laden, said to go by the name of Jallud, is helping the Saudis after being arrested. Exiled from Saudi Arabia, bin Laden, 44, who has an inherited fortune estimated at £154 million, is zealously committed to striking at American interests. He is a towering figure in Islamic circles, where he gained heroic status in the Eighties, fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Reporters who have interviewed him say he is a tall and elegant figure in a gold-trimmed white robe and red-and-white keffiyeh. He lives with his three wives at Hadda in Afghanistan, beyond the reach of the West and under the protection of the Taliban, who captured Kabul almost a year ago. He is especially feared because of his ability to fund many diverse operations. Britain has a special interest in him because he has been linked to the transfer of funds two years ago to a London-based Algerian group suspected of seven bombings in France. He has also been connected to the London-based Saudi opposition group, the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights. Egypt wants to question him for allegedly funding a plot to assassinate President Mubarak in December 1995. Cairo believes that in association with the blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, he was behind some of the murders of Western tourists in Egypt. America believes that bin Laden was the patron of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the 28 year-old Pakistani on trial in Manhattan for allegedly masterminding the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing for which the sheikh is serving a prison term. A State Department report labels him as "one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today". It is thought to be no coincidence that two alleged suicide bombers, Abu Mezer, 23, and Lafi Khalil, 22, carrying Jordanian passports, were captured two days ago making pipe bombs in a flat in Brooklyn, New York. They were apparently plotting to blow up a subway train. American sources say the information being given in Riyadh by Tayyib relates to the distribution of money to Arab communities in Brooklyn, Jersey City in New Jersey, and Detroit. Tayyib has apparently given details of bin Laden's bank accounts in Pakistan and Afghanistan from which money has been sent to London and Detroit for passing on to individuals. His information is thought to have been the reason a federal grand jury has been secretly convened in New York to examine the financing of terrorism in America. The CIA believes that bin Laden had advance knowledge of two Saudi bombings that killed 24 US servicemen. He is thought to have provided the money, with Iran supplying the muscle through Hizbollah.
Which gets us back to TWA 800, Sheikh Rahman, and a threat that apparently the U.S. government does not consider to be credible. Shortly after TWA 800 was shot down it was learned .....
July 21, 1996 New York Times.
Officials of Al Hayat, a prominent Arabic-language newspaper, said they had received faxes in London and Washington early on Wednesday, warning of a planned attack on an American target. The letter was signed by a group identifying itself as the Movement of Islamic Change, the Jihad wing.
September 22, 1996 The New York
More than 150 credible witnesses - including several scientists and business executives - have told the FBI and military experts they saw a missile destroy TWA 800. "Some of these people are extremely, extremely credible," a top federal official said. "When we asked what they saw and where they saw it, the witnesses out east pointed to the west, and the people to the west pointed to the east, " ...FBI technicians mapped the various paths - points in the sky where the witnesses said they saw the rising "flare-like" object - and determined that the triangulated convergence point was virtually where the jumbo jet initially exploded. Struck by the number and confidence of the witnesses, the FBI sat down many of the witnesses with U.S. military experts, who debriefed them and independently confirmed for the FBI that their descriptions matched surface-to-air missile attacks. "The military experts told us that what the witnesses were describing was consistent with a missile," a federal official acknowledged. "They told us, 'You know what they are describing is a missile' "... 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 ........
The Sheikh's follower's were smuggling Afghani stingers into the U.S. and Iran knew the details ....
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.
Sheik Rahman's colleague, Ramsey Yousef, developed the original strategy in the Phillipines to bomb several airliners simultaneously over the Pacific .....
May 13, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic
Edition) Issue 382
Ramsey Yousef is .... accused of having designed ... the bomb that blew up in the World Trade Centre in 1993....His idea was to topple one of the twin towers onto the other..... perhaps 50,000 people would have perished. ...Yousef placed a bomb on a Philippines Airlines jet ...... testing a method he intended using to destroy three US passenger planes at a later date. That plan, had it worked, would have ....... dwarfed all previous terrorist outrages against air passengers. A fire at the flat where he lodged in Manila ...... led to a search by the Philippines police ......Yousef managed to escape, fleeing to Pakistan......
Yousef was arrested by U.S. agents in Pakistan and brought to the U.S. for plotting these attacks on U.S. airliners in the Pacific and for the bombing of the World Trade Centre. Yet strangely the U.S. government claimed to be "concerned" about who financed him.....
August 4, 1997 TIME.com
Ramzi Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing ... will go on trial today ....prosecutors hope to finger Yousef as the mastermind of the WTC blast; another key concern is to uncover who financed him.
When they knew that he lived in bin Laden's house!
July 17, 1997 New York Times
A Federal grand jury in Manhattan is investigating whether a renegade Saudi millionaire .... has been funneling money to terrorist groups in the United States.... An official ... said that the money had been delivered to groups in Detroit, Jersey City and Brooklyn ....He (bin Laden) was ... linked to Ramzi Ahmed Yousef ...in the three years before the attack on the Trade Center ..... Yousef lived in Pakistan in a house paid for by bin Laden, the State Department report said.
Perhaps the Egyptian government has already come to a similar conclusion ......
November 23, 1999 The New York Times
Today in Cairo, Egypt's transportation minister seemed to absolve the EgyptAir crew of wrongdoing, telling the Egyptian Parliament that the crash was not a result of human error. The statement by the minister, Ibrahim el-Dumeiri, was Cairo's first official assessment of the crash. "There were attempts to imply that the accident happened as a result of human error or a lack of proper maintenance, but Egyptian documents prove the fallacy of that direction," Mr. Dumeiri said.
The New York Times attempted to assure the public that anxiety was "unavoidable because the mechanics of flight is a mystery" ....
February 3, 2000 The New York Times - Editorial -
The Mystery of Flight 261
The crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261 is the latest in a stream of ocean crashes - the explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996, the Swissair crash off the Canadian coast in 1998, the EgyptAir crash of the Massachusetts coast last year and, just this past Sunday, the Kenya Airways disaster near the Ivory Coast. (P)ublic anxiety is perhaps unavoidable because the mechanics of flight remain to many people a bit of a mystery. The mystery only deepens when something causes a plane to fail.
But apparently sparks which can not be identified and pilots who seek sexual favors in hotels provide better explanations for airline 'accidents' to investigating authorities and news media than state-sponsored terrorism.
August 12, 2000 The New York Times
Reinforcing suspicions that a suicidal co-pilot was responsible for the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 last fall, the nation's top air safety investigator said today that there were no safety issues in the crash that would require a public hearing to resolve. At a news conference, the official, James E. Hall, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, released 1,700 pages of documents, including F.B.I. reports that showed that the co-pilot had been accused of a variety of sexual improprieties at a Manhattan hotel during visits there in the year before the crash. The investigation of the crash became an international problem for the United States almost immediately. When some investigators indicated early in the board's 10-month investigation that it suspected that a co-pilot had deliberately crashed the plane, Egyptian officials reacted with outrage and demanded a broader investigation of the airplane's flight control systems. That the matter remains sensitive was evident today in the fact that safety board officials emphasized that they had still not reached any final conclusions. Mr. Hall said there were "no unresolved safety issues" that would require a formal public hearing ... But Mr. Hall also said, without elaboration, that the board thought the F.B.I. witness reports were relevant and should be included. Several women who worked at the hotel told security officers that Mr. Batouti repeatedly propositioned them sexually. In another incident, two teenage girls accused Mr. Batouti of following them and exposing himself through a window. American experts representing EgyptAir, including a former safety board chairman, said the documents contained extensive evidence that argued against the crash being a murder-suicide. It was clear again today that the Egyptian side was uncomfortable with the results of the inquiry to date. An Egyptian investigator, Capt. Mohsen el-Missiry of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, said pointedly, "Additional work remains to be done, particularly in assessing the design of the Boeing 767 elevator control system." At the news conference, at one point an Egyptian reporter asked Mr. Hall why the accusations of sexual misconduct were relevant to the cause of the crash, and then he began discussing President Clinton's sexual activities in the Oval Office. And asked how his assertion today that the board had made no conclusions on the crash squared with his statement on Nov. 15, that the board was considering turning the case over to the F.B.I. because the crash might be a crime, he simply referred the questioner to a statement posted on the safety board's Web site. (The statement, on Nov. 19, said that after consultation with the F.B.I. and the Egyptians, the board concluded that more work had to be done.) Board officials said today that they would let the documents they had released speak for themselves. But those documents formed a sort of Rorschach test, with experts hired by the Egyptian side drawing contradictory conclusions from the material, which, like much evidence in crash reports, was ambiguous in some places. For example, EgyptAir believes Mr. Batouti was never alone in the cockpit; safety board investigators believe he was. Twelve minutes before the end of the recording, the cockpit tape captures three syllables. The five Arabic-speaking people who helped prepare the transcript agree it was not an Arabic word; four of them believe they heard words similar to "control it." One English-speaking member of the committee thought it might be "hydraulic." Five others say it is unintelligible. Carl Vogt, a former safety board chairman and a lawyer here who now represents the Egyptians, pointed out that according to data released today, the tail elevators, the devices that change the plane's pitch, never moved to the maximum extent they are able to, indicating that the dive was not deliberate. And, Mr. Vogt noted, the flight data recorder captures someone in the cockpit cutting engine power. "When the nose of your airplane goes down, to maintain constant airspeed and not accelerate, you always pull off power," Mr. Vogt said. "That to me is compelling evidence against any intent to do anything but preserve the airplane and fly it." Some government investigators say, however, that they do not understand why someone -- presumably Mr. Batouti -- turned off both engines as the plane screamed toward the water, approaching the speed of sound. But Mr. Vogt made another point that other pilots have also raised, that diving is not the fastest or surest way to crash a plane. "You'd turn the thing over, and apply power to make it go faster," he said. "This flight crew maintained wings level."
While military radar tapes showing high speed objects crossing the flight path of EgyptAir 990, like the Sikorsky radar tapes in the case of TWA 800, are witheld by U.S. authorities.
Why are three pilots who claim to have seen missiles in the area where the EgyptAir plane went down not allowed to testify?
But then should we be amazed when the TWA 800 eyewitnesses were not allowed to testify either.
August 13, 2000
CAIRO (AFP) - - Egyptian aviation officials are asking to see radar information witheld from the probe into last year's EgyptAir Flight 990 crash to explain high-speed radar images near the plane in its final moments, AFP learned Saturday. An AFP review of 1,665 pages of documents relating to the crash revealed a letter from Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority chief Abdel Fattah Kato complaining that apparently "classified" US Air Force data had not been made available. In the documents, released on Friday and presented on the website of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Kato does not give credence to a theory that the plane was hit by a missile, but stresses "the need to investigate fully what the Flight 990 crew might have seen. "The investigation of this accident has produced radar data showing three high-speed returns in the area of, and along the path of, Flight 990. The data shows these returns crossing Flight 990's path just before the airplane began its dive," he wrote to US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 18. Such radar images could be planes with their transponders turned off, missiles or atmospheric clutter or "strobing." Kato said air traffic controllers had cleared Flight 990 to pass through military "Warning Areas 506 and 105A just prior to the accident. "It is difficult to understand why data concerning the characteristics of radar used in connection with United States civil aviation is classified and why it is unavailable to analyze apparent targets that were in the vicinity of Flight 990," he wrote to FAA administrator Jane F. Garvey. Mohsen el-Missiry, an Egyptian investigator into the accident, which killed 217 people off the US coast last October, told reporters in Washington Friday that Egypt was continuing to request more radar data. "Additional work remains to be done, particularly in ... gaining additional radar information," he said at a press conference to announce the release of the information. "Egypt will continue to pursue the truth behind this tragedy," he said. In his letter, Kato also wrote that "it is apparent from the ATC (air traffic control) transcript that no FAA controller was actually watching Flight 990 at the time of the accident and for several minutes after."
August 14, 2000 Airwise News
The head of the Egyptian pilots' federation yesterday accused U.S. investigators of withholding key evidence in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 off the U.S. coast last October, according to Reuters. Walid Murad called for the release of radar images and the evidence of two pilots who said they saw missiles in the area where the plane went down, killing all 217 people on board. He told reporters that U.S. investigators said they were denying access to the radar images because they contained military secrets. "This is a weak excuse," he said. "This American stance is evidence of concealing facts, and we demand the release of these radar images and to hear the testimony of the two pilots, one German and one Jordanian, that they saw missiles where the Egyptian plane crashed," he said. EgyptAir flight 990, headed for Cairo from New York, suddenly plunged into the Atlantic Ocean on October 31. Information from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders led to assertions by some U.S. investigators that relief co-pilot Gamil al-Batouti deliberately caused the crash. Egyptian officials have rejected that line of inquiry and worked on a theory that the plane's elevator panels on the tail, which control whether the nose points up or down, may have jammed. Murad said the Egyptian pilot's federation demanded the recovery of the remaining parts of the aircraft and the completion of an investigation to determine whether there were technical problems in the tail section. By concealing and leaking information, Murad said, the U.S. investigation risked losing credibility.
August 17, 2000 Reuters
EgyptAir Chairman Mohamed Fahim Rayan said on Thursday he was “99 percent sure” a technical problem and not a suicidal pilot caused an EgyptAir plane to crash last October, killing all 217 people aboard.“We are 99 percent sure that there was something (wrong) in the elevator system,”. The NTSB’s 1,665-page assessment appeared to dismiss Egyptian theories of technical problems but did mention alleged lewd behavior by the relief co-pilot Gamil al-Batouti. Rayan mocked the allegations as irrelevant, otherwise “50 percent of men would commit suicide,” he said. Rayan said the suicide theory did not fit with the plane’s controlled descent, mentioned in last week’s NTSB report. He said that the switching off of the plane’s autopilot just before its fatal descent did not constitute evidence for the theory because it had disengaged itself three times during the plane’s earlier flight from Los Angeles to New York. “There is a meeting in Washington today between the Egyptian and American sides to discuss some of the issues that the Egyptian side requested,” Demiri said, adding a “final picture” of what happened would be clear by November. “The Egyptian side has demands which must be seen through, such as radar and air traffic control information... There are mechanical issues about the hydraulic bell cranks and elevators,” he said. The Egyptian Pilots’ Federation said last week it wanted U.S. authorities to release radar images and to question an air traffic controller on duty at the time of the crash, as well as three pilots from Germany, Jordan and Britain, said to have seen missiles while flying in the area where the plane went down. Last week EgyptAir said metallurgical analysis of wreckage showed that the rivets on two of the three bell cranks in the right elevator were sheared in a direction that would force the elevator down. The rivets on the other bell crank were sheared in the opposite direction, a pattern EgyptAir said was consistent with the possible failure or jam of power control units that would cause the aircraft to pitch down. Mechanical links called bell cranks are connected to hydraulic controls that move elevators on the tail-piece. The Egyptian Pilots’ Federation said on Monday the NTSB should turn its inquiry over to a third party unless it releases what the federation views as key evidence.
But the Egyptian Pilots' union intends to get serious - it has sued the President of the United States ...
September 1, 2000 Ananova
The Egyptian pilots' union has named Bill Clinton in a lawsuit over the FBI investigation into the EgyptAir Boeing 767 crash. The union is said to be furious at leaked reports which suggest co-pilot Gamil al-Battuti crashed the plane into the Atlantic, killing 217 people, in an act of suicide. The action is being taken through the Egyptian courts and accuses investigators of ignoring other possible reasons as to why the New York to Cairo jet crashed. It calls on Mr Clinton to relaunch the inquiry and look at possibilities including one that a land-to-air missile brought down the aircraft. Union officials have delivered a copy of the lawsuit to the US embassy in Cairo reports Channel Africa News.
Though the airline decided to accept "liability" for the crash reserving the right to sue other parties.
January 26, 2001 NY Times
Egypt Air will accept liability for the crash of Flight 990 off the coast of Massachusetts 15 months ago, the airline's lawyers told a court in New York today, opening the way for the families of about 100 of the passengers to collect damages. But the airline, noting that the investigation into the crash of the Boeing 767 is still under way, said it that was reserving the right to sue other parties, presumably Boeing, to share the costs and that it was not accepting blame. A lawyer for the airline, Christopher Carlsen, said EgyptAir acknowledged liability because it believed that eventually either it would pay the families or Boeing would, and that there was no reason to make the families wait. "They were sitting on our plane, and we want to take care of them," Mr. Carlsen said. The (NTSB) board has said it will not hold hearings on the crash. Board officials say that it may not even hold a public session to approve its report, but simply have its members sign it. "This is definitely not in any way to be construed as admission of fault for the accident," Mr. Carlsen said of the airline's acceptance of liability. "From Day 1 we've said the suicide theory is nonsense."
Because threats continue against Egyptair
June17, 2001 NY
An EgyptAir flight carrying 475 passengers and 20 crew members was held at Kennedy Airport overnight Friday after the airline received a threat. EgyptAir Flight 989 from Montreal stopped over at Kennedy about 9 p.m. Friday on its way to Cairo, Port Authority spokesman Pasquale DiFulco said. Passengers had reboarded the plane about 11:30 p.m., DiFulco said, when Port Authority police got a call from EgyptAir officials informing them of a threat to the aircraft. All passengers, crew members and baggage were removed from the plane, and the aircraft and cargo were searched mechanically, manually and by a canine explosives unit, DiFulco said. Nothing unusual was found. The Boeing 747 was cleared to fly at 4:15 a.m. yesterday, but by that time it needed a fresh crew. The plane finally took off at 9 a.m. DiFulco said he did not know the nature of the threat, and EgyptAir officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
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