The Hull Thread
Chronology of Events From October 1999 - December 1999
(Articles from news sources have been placed
within for educational, research, and discussion purposes
only, in compliance with "Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.)
October 5, 1999 The NY Times
The Clinton Administration announced Monday that it was deporting to Saudi Arabia a suspect in the terrorist bombing there that killed 19 American airmen three years ago. It also said it had information concerning the possible involvement of Iranian officials in the attack. The deportation of Hani el-Sayegh, a Saudi Arabian dissident who once lived in Iran, came after the Administration disclosed last week that President Clinton had sent a letter to President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, asking for help in finding those responsible for the bombing. "We do have information about the involvement of Iranian officials but have not reached the conclusion that this was directed by the Government of Iran," a senior State Department official said Monday. The Administration has "made it clear to Iran we want and expect its cooperation," the official said, referring to Clinton's message to Khatami. Until now, according to officials, the Administration has been reluctant to acknowledge possible Iranian involvement in the attack, in part because shortly after the bombing at the Khobar Towers apartments, the Administration threatened to retaliate with a military attack against any foreign government found to be responsible. A retaliatory attack against Iran, the officials said, would not be in the interests of neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is Washington's closest ally in the region and has markedly improved its relations with Iran. Such retaliation is not in the interests of the Clinton Administration, either, officials said, since Washington has been exploring ways of trying to improve relations with Iran and the relatively moderate Khatami. The one-page letter from Clinton, delivered through an Omani intermediary in August, appeared to be an effort to solve the Khobar Towers case, a move that could then help clear the way for warmer relations with Teheran, officials said. The Iranian Government responded to Clinton with a letter in which it denied any involvement in the Khobar bombing, an Administration official said. In their letter, the Iranians noted that the American Government had never brought to justice the captain of the Vincennes, the American warship that shot down an Iranian passenger airliner by mistake in the 1980's, the Administration official said. Law enforcement officers have long known that several Saudi men, believed to have been trained and possibly financed by the Iranians, fled to Iran after the bombing. The suspects in Iran are believed to have been members of the Saudi branch of Hezbollah, or Party of God, a terrorist group with strong ties to Iran. ...... In the decision to deport Sayegh back to Saudi Arabia, Administration officials said that they did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute him in the American court system for the attack but that the Saudi Government believed that it had the basis for proceeding against him. Early on, Saudi intelligence officials identified Sayegh as the driver of a car that signaled the driver of the explosive-laden truck to the site of the blast. The Justice Department said Sayegh, who fled to Canada after the bombing and was arrested there, had failed to abide by an initial plea agreement with the Justice Department. The department then terminated his parole in October 1997 and placed him in removal proceedings. After initially suggesting that he was involved in the case, Sayegh -- who has been described by officials as being an opponent of the Saudi royal family -- changed his testimony. He then insisted that he had no information on the bombing, officials said. Sayegh has been fighting the proceedings to send him back to Saudi Arabia on the grounds that he is in severe danger for his life if he returns to his homeland. An Administration official said Washington had received assurances from the Saudi Government that Sayegh would not be tortured on his return. But there were no assurances about what would happen if he was convicted, the official said. In its announcement of the deportation of Sayegh, the Justice Department said the Saudi Government had several individuals awaiting trial in the case and has "in the past demonstrated resolve in the prosecution of terrorists."
October 5, 1999 Newsmax.com
The London-based 'Terrorism and Security Monitor' is reporting that U.S. intelligence sources are worried that terrorist Osama Bin Laden may be planning a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil. U.S. sources are said "to be particularly concerned about some kind of attack on New York, and they have recommended stepped-up security at the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve. U.S. authorities believe Bin Laden may have acquired chemical weapons. Reports of Bin Ladenís activities come on the heels of heightened agitation among Muslims against the West. Yossef Bodansky, staff director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, says, "There are rumblings throughout the Islamic community right now. Thereís a lot of movement and talk. Itís like a volcano just before the explosion."
October 9, 1999 NY Times
Federal prosecutors in New York charged a Tanzanian man Friday with helping to carry out the bombing of the United States Embassy in his country last year, which along with a nearly simultaneous attack in Nairobi, Kenya, killed more than 200 people and injured thousands. The suspect, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 26, was arrested in Cape Town, this week and flown to New York, where he was arraigned Friday before a Federal district judge in Manhattan. Mohamed .... is accused of conspiring with others in an international terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. Mohamed is the first of the nine fugitives indicted in the case to be arrested, and the first defendant in custody in New York to be accused of a direct operational role in planning and carrying out the attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed 11. Others in custody in New York are accused of carrying out the attack in Kenya. In the months leading up to the bombings of Aug. 7, 1998, the indictment charges, Mohamed rented a house in Dar es Salaam that the conspirators used as their base of operations and as a bomb factory. Just minutes after the explosion, Mohamed photographed the embassy ruins from inside a Suzuki Samurai, which he had rented for use in the plot, the indictment charges. Mary Jo White, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, said Mohamed had been living in Cape Town under an assumed name. ....... Although American officials declined to say how they had learned Mohamed was in the country, a South African official said the suspect had fled to the country a few days after the bombings, entering illegally under a false name, Zahran Nassor Maulid. ...... Ngwema said the South African authorities had turned up no evidence linking Mohamed to the bombing of a Planet Hollywood restaurant in Cape Town in August 1998, shortly after the United States shot missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for the embassy attacks. ..... At the request of the Government, Judge Sand ordered Mohamed held without bail and under the same strict jail conditions as the five other defendants in custody in the Metropolitan Correctional Institution in lower Manhattan, who are barred from communicating with virtually all outsiders. If Mohamed is convicted, he could face the death penalty ....the lawyer appointed to represent Mohamed, Jeremy Schneider, said ... that he had no comment on the case.
October 10, 1999 Associated Press
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday said there was no evidence to suggest the recent outbreak of West Nile-like encephalitis was anything other than ''Mother Nature at work'' despite a magazine report suggesting it was an act of bioterrorism. Analysts at the CIA who deal with biological weapons recalled a report that an Iraqi defector had claimed in April that Saddam Hussein was developing a strain of West Nile-like encephalitis for use as a biological weapon, The New Yorker reported in its Oct. 18-25 double issue on newsstands today. The report recalled by the analysts was published April 6 in the Daily Mail of London. It was an excerpt from a book called ''In the Shadow of Saddam,'' written by a man called Mikhael Ramadan, the New Yorker said. Ramadan claimed that he worked as one of Hussein's body doubles, and that at one point Hussein had told him of a plan to develop a strain of West Nile encephalitis that would kill 97 percent of people in an urban environment. The magazine said Ramadan could no longer be located; he was believed to be hiding somewhere in Canada or the United States. ...... CDC officials issued a statement saying, ''The investigation is ongoing and, to date, the CDC has no evidence that this is anything but Mother Nature at work.''
October 12, 1999 NY Times
A Saudi who reneged on a deal to cooperate with American investigators was deported on Sunday to Saudi Arabia to face charges of helping in an attack that killed 19 American airmen .... The Saudis suspect Mr. Al-Sayegh of having driven a car in June 1996 that signaled an explosives-filled truck when to pull up beside the Khobar Towers complex near Dhahran ... In 1996, al-Sayegh, who had been living in Iran, moved to Kuwait. He later went to Canada, where he cut a deal with American officials that called for him to plead guilty in an unrelated plot against Americans in Saudi Arabia. ... Reno allowed him into the United States solely for prosecution under the pact. But after arriving, he said he had not understood the accord, knew nothing about the Khobar attack and was out of Saudi Arabia when the bombing occurred.
October 23, 1999 Exchange of Letters between Paul Marcone (Chief of Staff for Honorable James Traficant ) and Cmdr. Donaldson.
1) Paul Marcone's letter: http://twa800.com/letters/marcone8-31-99.htm
Saw your press conference on C-SPAN2. I have a couple of comments.
The only evidence you presented that Flight 800 was downed by a missile was the eyewitness statements, unexplained radar tracks and the unclassified China Lake report. Allow me to comment on each:
1) Eyewitness statements.
Having reviewed all of the statements given to the FBI, I am convinced that what the over-whelming majority saw was Flight 800 in crippled flight. Even if you don't buy the NTSB/CIA breakup scenario -- how do you explain the fact that many of the eyewitnesses that heard something also -- at almost the same time they heard a bang -- saw the fireball (Flight 800's fuel tanks exploding) meaning that (given Fl. 800's distance to the shore) that the bang they heard was from an explosion that occurred some 40 to 50 seconds earlier.
It's hard to dispute physics. Given the know travel time of sound, it is a given that 40 to 50 seconds before Fl. 800 exploded into a fireball(s) there was a loud explosion. Missile experts have told me that a Stinger missile or similar shoulder-fired missile would not emit a sonic boom or similar noise.
So, we have an event that lasted from 40 to 50 seconds. Not a single eyewitness saw the event from start to finish (from the time of the loud explosion to the time Flight 800 crashed into the ocean). Let's say it takes a Stinger 10 to 15 seconds to hit its target. How do you explain the original loud noise?
I am convinced that the CIA was right -- what the eyewitnesses saw was Fl. 800 in various stages of crippled flight. Keep in mind that the CIA's role was NOT to re-interview eyewitnesses. It was to analyze their original statements and determine whether or not these witnesses were describing a missile launch. The CIA analysts were some of the top missile experts in the world. I was told by some sources I have (retired CIA -- excellent sources who do not b.s. me) that these analysts were gung ho about solving the Flight 800 riddle. Proving Fl. 800 was shot down by a missile would have made their career. These analysts were not trying to cover anything up.
As far as Boeing is concerned, I met with their engineers. They told me that the NTSB's breakup scenario was credible. If one examines the document they released in the wake of the CIA video release, one would find that Boeing does not disagree with the scenario depicted in the video, they merely state that they did not participate in the actual creation of the animation. In their opinion, a 747 could continue flying after a CWT explosion and loss of the nose, and gain altitude. I questioned them very closely on this. I did not get the impression that they were lying.
This brings us to the breakup scenario. You're whole theory rests on debunking the break-up scenario. You have not presented one expert to debunk it. I couldn't find anyone to debunk it either. The clincher for me was when Boeing said it was credible.
As noted above, even if you don't subscribe to the NTSB's breakup scenario, how do you explain the timing of the explosion? If it were a missile, what caused the loud noise heard by so many people?
2) The unexplained radar tracks.
I agree that the NTSB and FBI should have been more forthcoming about the radar data. It would have dispelled a lot of questions. In fact, the Congressman has been advocating quite strongly for the past year that the NTSB, FBI, CIA and Navy have an all-day joint press conference to explain how they came to their conclusions on Fl. 800 and how they conducted their investigation. The Navy finally responded to our inquiry. According to the Navy, there were 15 Navy vessels within 300 nautical miles of the crash site, a one just outside a 300 nm arc. Of the 16 vessels, eight were submarines. The vessels, as relayed to the Congressman by the Navy, are listed below:
USS NORMANDY (CG 60)
USS VELLA GULF (CG 72)
USS RAMAGE (DDG 61)
USS ESTOCIN (FFG 15)
USS KEARARGE (LHD 3)
USS OAK HILL (LSD 51)
USS JOHN LENTHALL (AO 189)
USS NICOLAS (FFG 47) (just outside the 300 nm arc)
USS ALBUQUERQUE (SSN 697)
USS OKLAHOMA CITY (SSN 714)
USS BOISE (SSN 764)
USS ALBANY (SSN 753)
USS WYOMING (SSBN 742)
USS SUNFISH (SS 649)( DECOMMISSIONED 10/15/96)
USS TREPANG (SSN 674) (DECOMMISSIONED 1/4/99)
USS JAMES K. POLK (SSN 645)(DECOMMISSIONED 3/1/99)
The Navy also replied that none of these vessels fired any missiles on 7/17/96. Unless your Navy is lying to a Member of Congress, most of those radar hits were not Navy vessels. Once again, I agree that the Navy should come clean and fully explain its activities that evening. Let me point out, however, that if your theory is correct (i.e. that Flight 800 was downed by a terrorist missile and the Navy was attempting to "track" or "intercept" the terrorists) then hundreds of Navy personnel and officers are involved in the "coverup."
3) The China Lake report.
I had two long conversations with the report's author Richard Bott. In those conversations, he made it clear to me that, in his opinion, and that of his team, there was no evidence based on his exhaustive review of the evidence, that Flight 800 was hit by a missile, missile fragment or over pressure from a proximity blast of a warhead. You selectively quote from the report to give the mistaken impression that the fact that the FBI/NTSB did not conduct certain tests compromised their investigation.
Let me quote from Bott's report:
"The possibility that a shoulder-launched missile was launched at TWA Flight 800, failed to impact, self-destructed in close proximity, and initiated the breakup of the aircraft is highly improbable. This theory would be nearly impossible to prove or disprove even with extensive analysis and testing. However, this effort would be useful in identifying methods to counter future terrorist attacks." (Bott report, p. 3)
The experts at China Lake closely examined three scenarios:
1) A fully operational missile impacted the aircraft and the warhead exploded.
2) A missile impacted the aircraft but the warhead did not explode.
3) A missile was launched at the aircraft but failed to intercept. The self-destruct feature of the missile detonated the warhead in the proximity of the aircraft. (Bott report, p. 7)
Bottom line: the China Lake experts did examine all likely missile scenarios.
As for the damage to the left wing area of Fl. 800, let me again quote from the report:
"Detailed examinations of the TWA Flight 800 wing fuel tanks were conducted. The left upper wing skin, the left side-of-body rib, and the left leading-edge spar exhibit different and more severe damage from their right wing counterparts. Figures 3, 4, and 5 show comparisons of the damage to the upper wing skins, side-of-body ribs, and inboard leading-edge spars, respectively. Close inspections of the wreckage in these areas revealed no evidence of penetrations by foreign objects and no high-velocity fragment damage consistent with a missile impact." (Bott, p. 10).
Let me quote again from the report:
"Nearly all wing wreckage was recovered downrange in the green zone, but several sections of the wing root leaning-edge fairing, pieces A449 and A551, were recovered in the red zone, indicating very early release from the aircraft. Attaching too much importance to these findings should be avoided for the following reasons:
1. Both pieces of leading-edge fairing were from a location immediately adjacent to the fuselage skin, indicating a missile flight path would have to be exactly parallel to the fuselage and on a reciprocal flight path. Based on missile simulations, this engagement is not likely.
2. Although both pieces were conclusively recovered in the red zone, each had intact sections of Nomex honeycomb structure attached, which could have provided some degree of buoyancy. This buoyancy may have led to the components drifting on the surface before sinking or shifting on the ocean bottom before recovery.
3. No visible signs of foreign object impact, other than those associated with water impact, are on either these components or the adjacent components that have been identified. (Not all adjacent components have been identified.)
4. The two components were from the same area of the wing fairing but opposite sides of the aircraft. A449 is from the right wing fairing and A451 is from the left wing fairing. Examination of the reconstruction clearly reveals fractures and curling of the adjacent fuselage skin in these areas, Based on analysis conducted by the NTSB, fractures in the area of these components occurred very early (Reference 5) This determination implies the fairings were torn off as the fuselage broke up immediately after the center wing tank explosion.
Conceivably, a missile impact in the wing-root fuel tank area could create enough damage to cause the side-of-body rib to collapse into the center wing tank. This collapse could occur without significant release of material from the wing structure, but the preponderance of evidence suggests this did not occur on TWA Flight 800. Most compelling is the fact that both wings remained with the aft fuselage section until they were well downrange. If the severe left wing damage had been caused by a missile impact the expected result would be an early release of that wing, or at least numerous pieces of it, well up range in the red recovery zone." (Bott, p. 10-14)
As for the severe damage to the left wing, Bott states that "This wing damage may be typical for severe water impacts but has gone unnoticed in previous mishaps due to the lack of recovery and reconstruction of debris. Further, the left and right wings of TWA Flight 800 impacted the water in different attitudes, as evidenced by the damage to the engines, which may explain the disparity in damage between the two structures." (Bott, p. 14)
Yes, Bott does recommend further testing and analysis relative to shoulder-launched missiles. I AGREE THAT THESE TESTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE. But the fact remains that the experts at China Lake maintain that "very compelling evidence exists that the wings on TWA Flight 800 were damaged downrange during in-flight breakup and water impact." (Bott, p. 14).
Not to be disrespectful or flippant, but no one at ARAP has closely examined ANY of the wreckage. Bott and his team from China Lake spent months analyzing every piece of wreckage. I find their findings, which are based on first-hand analysis, much more credible than individuals who only have access to photos and sketches.
As I have said previously, if your theory is to be believed, then Bott and his team at China Lake are either involved in a cover-up or are extremely incompetent. In fact, the heart of your theory rests on two pillars: that ALL of the individuals who were involved in the investigation are either grossly incompetent or involved somehow in a coverup.
One final point. I do not appreciate the character assault you have made on Congressman Traficant. He is a man of high integrity. Throughout his career he has taken unpopular stands. He has been THE NUMBER ONE CRITIC IN CONGRESS OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. To imply that he was somehow intimidated or blackmailed by the FBI to alter his TWA Flight 800 investigation is preposterous, to say the least. Yes, his district director pled guilty to racketeering and other charges. But the Congressman was never named, and has never been named, in any of these charges. Mr. O'Nesti's conviction had no impact, zero, on the Congressman's Flight 800 investigation.
The Congressman and I deeply appreciate your expert advice and input throughout the Congressman's probe. But we strongly disagreed with many of your public statements and letters to the NTSB in which you made ad hominem attacks on Chairman Hall and made unsubstantiated claims. It is one thing to ask good questions. It is another to jump to conclusions without any conclusive evidence.
As for the article you chose to post on your web site about the Congressman and the Mafia, all I can say is that the author of that article is NOT a journalist. Most of the outrageous assertions in that article are not based on fact but on hearsay. If you are interested in the truth, please call me and I will provide you with some hard facts about the author of that article. The fact is, the Congressman continues to be an outspoken critic of the Justice Dept. Next week he plans to introduce legislation calling for the appointment of independent counsels to investigate the Waco affair and the Clinton Administration's attempt to cover-up illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic party made by the Chinese government.
In the name of fairness and honor, I certainly hope you will post these facts on your web site.
We may disagree about what happened to Flight 800. But that is what America is all about. I am telling you, man to man, that the conclusions reached by Congressman Traficant were based on his honest views and were not influenced, in any shape or form, by any outside events or pressures. Period.
There, I've said my piece. As always, please feel free to call me.
Paul P. Marcone
Chief of Staff
Office of Rep. Traficant
2446 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
2) Cmdr. Donaldson's Reply: http://twa800.com/letters/marcone10-23-99.htm
Mr. Paul Marone
Chief of Staff for
Honorable James Traficant
Representative for 17th District of Ohio
I received your fax on 24 September 1999. Frankly, I am surprised your office is still stuck with the failed logic and administration hyperbole supplied by NTSB attorneys that you used in your July 1998 report to Rep. Duncan. I will be glad to put your fax up on my web site and let it speak for itself, however, I am compelled to set the record straight in the process.
Traficant / Donaldson Contacts
Mr. Traficant likes to say "after working closely with Cmdr. Donaldson Ö.." First of all, I was recruited to go see Mr. Traficant by a private investigator, John Culberson, that still works with your office. The fact is, there were no contacts between myself and the Congressman from my first and only briefing in September of 1997 until his histrionic attempt to undercut my testimony before the Aviation Subcommittee on 6 May 1999. Considering at that time I introduced forensic evidence of a covert $5.5 million FBI search for specific stinger missile parts, in precisely the area Mr. Traficant knows the FBI was unable to identify a high-speed boat, and precisely where witnesses point to as the origination of a high velocity flare, his conduct can only be explained as shilling for the Administration.
Its true that I wrote questions Mr. Traficant forwarded to the FBI and NTSB. One question asked if they had identified all surface vessels near Flight 800 when it exploded. The negative answer returned four months later and well after the FBI stopped its investigation, should have spurred your office to request hearings and put FBI agents under oath. I would have been glad to supply a long list. Instead, Mr. Traficant's superficial report whitewashed one of the worst deceptions ever perpetrated on the American people by the Justice Department and effectively subverted any chance the Aviation Subcommittee had to perform timely oversight.
I stopped providing new information to your office in the spring of 1998 when you refused to put me through to Mr. Traficant and repeated promises to set up briefings for the Chairman and Subcommittee members never materialized.
The CIA and the Cartoon
Paul, your admiration for the CIA's expertise in discerning the cause of a civil aircrash from third person interviews, conducted by FBI agents without aviation or missile training, is a bit overblown. Maybe you have seen too many movies because I can't recall anything the CIA has done right since Jimmy Carter had Admiral Stansfield Turner dismantle their HumInt (human intelligence) capability in the 1970's. If you can determine the names of these secret CIA analysts, who worked so diligently to provide cover for their own agency, whose bosses failed to recover hundreds of Stinger missiles after the Afghan war, I'd like to have the list.
Despite the fact most witnesses visually observed a high velocity "streaking flare", these secret rocket scientists claimed what they saw was the noseless747 zoom-climbing 3000 ft. They introduced the fictitious climb and a distorted "sound analysis" in the infamous CIA cartoon purely as red herrings to discredit all witnesses with a broad brush. The CIA improperly assumed the only possible source of sound that evening was from the exploding 747, not so. When you actually interview real witnesses like those at Dockers Restaurant who heard "two, not one, explosion or claps of rolling thunder" then looked to sea and observed a streaking flare climbing from north to south out to sea prior to a bright fireball and flaming falling aircraft debris, the CIA's theory falls apart. Why? Because Dockers Restaurant is over 70 seconds at the speed of sound from Flight 800's explosion point. Therefore, if what the witnesses heard was the exploding aircraft, then it would have been in the water before they heard it, and they could not possibly have seen anything moving anywhere!
Paul, we now have the Navy Supervisor of Salvage Report as well as precision maps used by the FBI, the radar data, the debris field and statements from the captain of the Rude who's computers precisely predicted the ballistic impact point of the aircraft on the surface of the Atlantic.
As you said, it is hard to dispute physics: radar, the Rude's ballistic computers, the debris field and witnesses all confirm Flight 800's main wreckage (less the Nose and Tail components) fell in a perfect ballistic arc. From its explosion point, 2.3 nautical miles high, it traveled 2.4 nautical miles down range to ocean impact about 38 seconds later. It didn't fly, it didn't climb, it didn't turn, it impacted precisely on course line with a dispersal pattern of heavy debris (engines) only a few hundred feet right and left. Failure to consider the real "physics" (radar hits on the main wreckage) proves CIA malfeasance; proactively creating their own data makes it criminal malfeasance! Boeing made the extraordinary statement in a press release that " Boeing was not involved in the production of the video shown today, nor have we had the opportunity to obtain a copy or fully understand the data used to create it." At that point, Mr. Kalstrom panicked and pulled the CIA cartoon!
The CIA knows a two-stage Stinger missile, launched from on or near shore, would precisely fit the description of sounds heard at Dockers Restaurant. When the missile fires, the 1st stage ejector motor produces a loud, sharp report. About a half second later the main booster lights with a loud burn punctuated 1 second later with a loud crack when the 2 1/2 inch diameter, 5 foot long missile breaks the sound barrier. 1.5 seconds into the 2nd stage rocket burn, the missile is at mach 2.2 making a loud crackling noise while in the lower atmosphere. Instead of libeling witnesses, the CIA should have assumed a near simultaneous two or even three missile MANPAD attack on Flight 800, with the close inshore missile(s) launched out of range.
Paul, anyone familiar with military or civilian high power rifle fire knows a rifle makes three distinct noises. They are: the crack of the shot, a sizzle noise from the supersonic bullet and a thud or smack on target impact. In light or no wind conditions, such as were present 17 July 1996, the crack-sizzle-thud can be heard a mile or more away. A Stinger missile is 1600 times heavier than a 30 caliber bullet, reaches the same velocity and it's rocket motor burns 6 1/2 seconds. Anyone at CIA that tells you a Stinger can't be heard very far away needs to fire his dope peddler. Whatever he is smoking is affecting his job performance.
An FBI missile team agent has admitted to me they were very concerned with an inshore boat captured on radar. Also, Mr. Kalstrom in a perplexing unexplained comment over the PA system to investigators at Calverton said "we are going to get that son of a bitch in the canoe". A Stinger can be fired from any open boat. My question is, where was the canoe and why did Kalstrom want to get him? Kalstrom needs to be put under oath to answer these and many other questions. Thanks to your boss that won't happen soon.
The China Lake Report
Paul, do you really believe a civil servant would contradict a personal friend of the Vice President who happens to be running the investigation without a piece of missile in hand? Do you really believe he would tell a congressional staffer from the same political party, his personal suspicions? It is obvious you don't know how to interpret a civil servant's "snap shot analysis" that was so politically hot Mr. Bott's bosses wouldn't even endorse his findings. You didn't question why just a short snapshot report was done to evaluate the possibility of a missile hit, taking a year, when 10's of millions were spent in failed attempts to prove every other asinine theory, like EMI! I know the FBI consulted at least three other military missile commands. Where is the paper trail?
You have totally ignored the only military report in writing and Mr. Bott's seven recommendations intended to counter the real ongoing world-wide MANPADS threat to aviation safety. You don't question why it took the FBI four months to bring China Lake into the investigation to begin with. When Mr. Bott first came aboard, the FBI was already covertly dredging for stinger missile parts.
He explained the four damage criteria expected to be unique to a weapon hit in a nearly full inboard fuel tank. All four criteria were strongly in evidence. To protect himself from political repercussions, he provides parsed statements about finding no proof of missile impact (to comply with official FBI criteria). Of course he said that - the Administration refused to do the tests he recommended needed for that proof after blatantly ignoring the Flight 800 anomalies in evidence!
Mr. Bott did a commendable job in identifying damage done to Flight 800 from a missile hit in the front wall of the number two main tank. The NTSB political leadership refuses to do the missile tests or the edge metal analysis that would easily determine which tank, center wing or number two main tank, exploded first. The cover-up goes on.
The Impossible Cover-up
Paul, you and your boss, in press releases and theatrical public statements repeatedly say that I believe hundreds, if not thousands of people, are involved in a cover-up or are incompetent. You don't use the same assumptions with Waco or Ruby Ridge and nothing is farther from the truth. This investigation was ordained to fail when, in the first few days, the Justice Department imposed draconian "need to know" criteria, not only immediately freezing out NTSB investigators and party investigators from witnesses and real evidence, but dumbing down their own FBI agents. For example, one of the closest and most qualified witnesses observed the destruction of Flight 800 from the right side, row 5 window seat of USAir flight 217, less than 2.4 NM miles away. He was a navy master chief, and a fully qualified combat control center watch-officer aboard missile ships. He observed a very fast, climbing, streak of light coming from behind his aircraft, moving right to left, slightly converging on his aircraft's course (radar shows his course as 011 degrees). He then saw an explosion and fireball begin to immediately descend toward the ocean before it was obscured by the right wing. (Note from website author - Click here for Brumley's testimony and a diagram of his observations.)
Two FBI agents from the Pensacola Florida office did a cursory interview of this vital witness that was cut short by a call to a bank robbery. He was never interviewed again by anyone until we interviewed him. The CIA cartoon, supposedly drawn from the FBI interviews, specifically and grossly distorts this witness's testimony. They change his right to left flare to a left to right flare (to agree with Flight 800's flight path crossing in front and a mile underneath USAir 217). They make no mention of the very high speed of the flare (much faster than his aircraft). They altered the flight path of the flare from an estimated 335 degrees to that of Flight 800's course, 071 degrees, a change of 96 degrees of heading to the right. To make matters worse the master chief first observed the flare rising from the surface at a point Southeast of Flight 800, exactly coinciding with other witnesses' observations and the position of an unidentified boat.
The FBI missile team didn't interview him. They must not have had a need to know!
Somehow the data was changed. It doesn't take thousands for a cover-up, only a few in the right positions when vital information is censored or strictly controlled by a politically corrupt Justice Department. The existence of this witness is extremely embarrassing to the Chairman of the NTSB and FBI officials who have repeatedly testified the closest witnesses were 10 miles away, they were only off by over 7 miles!
Mr. Traficant and Personal Integrity
Paul, you and I have a vastly different view of "high personal integrity", I will admit that your boss is a very likable fellow, gifted with a unique ability to turn a political cow patty into chocolate mousse. His leap from Federal Criminal defendant directly into a seat in the US Congress was a masterful manipulation of his constituents. More impressive still was his ability to quietly pay off his civil fine for conviction of Federal income tax evasion on the alleged Mafia bribe money while building an image as a public crusader for the American way. I would have never discovered any of this had he not stepped over the line, shilling for the Administration trying to paint me as a conspiracy nut during Congressional testimony on 6 May 1999.
Paul, neither you, your staff, nor your boss could muster up the courage to attend any of the briefings I gave to the media. Admiral's Moorer and Hill, as well as past NTSB Board Member, Dr. Vernon Gross, not only attended but had the courage and moral fiber to state on the record that they did not believe the NTSB's explanation of a mechanical failure explosion. Admirals Moorer & Hill flatly stated that they thought the aircraft was shot down. Dr. Gross said that our investigation uncovered enough evidence to convince him the plane could have been shot down. They all called for a congressional inquiry, where is it?
How do you have the audacity to ignore Admiral Tom Moorer on a issue of National Security? He is the only Naval officer to have been Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Commander in Chief Atlantic, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He holds the Nation's 2nd highest award for valor in combat, the Silver Star.
During Mr. Hall's testimony at the May 1999 hearing, while heaping syrupy praise on Mr. Hall, your boss feigned shock and dismay that I would question the competence or integrity of the Chairman of the NTSB. The fact is, Mr. Hall is a Tennessee Lawyer whose singular qualifications for his politically appointed office was fund-raising and flacking for Mr. Gore's 1992 campaign. He and Dr. Loeb have turned a simple aircraft shoot-down into an expensive three and a half year farce. I called for Mr. Hall's resignation in the first correspondence sent to him, because of an irrational letter he had published in April 1997 that prejudiced his own investigation. He stated "it wasn't a missile" in the Wall Street Journal while he was paying for the FBI's covert Stinger search, six full months before Mr. Bott's China Lake Report. I stand by that evaluation. (Note from website author - Comment on April 1997 letter)
Early last month a Lufthansa Cargo India flight was fired on by what could only be a MANPADS missile. At 2:30 in the morning the aircraft in a right turn at 3000 ft. was near Karachi airport. Aircrew from several locations observed a rapid flare leave the surface, overtake and explode above Lufthansa. The weapon burst brightly lit the cockpit. Lufthansa cancelled flights into Karachi and filed a protest. After some delay, authorities in India announced it was a meteor shower. Where did they get their advice, from your office? (Note from website author - For further details on this incident see items on September 9/10, 1999)
W. S. Donaldson, Cmdr. USN-Ret.
October 23, 1999 New York Post
The mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing came frighteningly close to using radioactive material in the attack - and could have turned lower Manhattan into an uninhabitable wasteland, a new book claims. Ramzi Yousef didn't have time to make an atom bomb - but hoped to use conventional explosives to spread the deadly isotopes over New York, journalist Simon Reeve writes in "The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism." "New York would have been paralyzed and mass panic would have undoubtedly have caused evacuation of the entire city," Reeve writes. The book, which hits shelves tomorrow, claims the now-imprisoned Yousef is just one of a new breed of terrorists developing weapons of mass destruction to topple the United States and its allies in a fiery apocalypse. Yousef no doubt would have laced the Twin Towers bomb with unstable, cancer-causing radiation - but a co-conspirator was unable to buy it from contacts in the former Soviet Union, Reeve quotes intelligence sources as saying. "To be honest, it's not something we like to think about, let alone talk about," one intelligence source said. Yousef, 31, is serving a 240-year federal prison sentence for launching the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center attack that killed six people - the deadliest act of foreign terrorism on U.S. soil. Yousef, whose real name is Abdul Basit Karim, had hoped to knock one of the Twin Towers into the other and slaughter 250,000 people. The Kuwaiti-born Yousef rose from humble roots to become one of the most sought-after terrorists in the Muslim militant world, the book charges. Yousef claims to be religious but beat his young wife, flirted with women and did not observe Ramadan, the holy month of fasting - all contrary to Islam, the book says.
Multimillionaire terrorism sponsor bin Laden contacted Yousef to carry out some of his deadliest goals, the book says. Before Yousef was captured in Pakistan in early 1995, the young militant plotted a series of horrifying terrorist attacks:
*In the "Bojinka Plot," five terrorists led by Yousef planned to simultaneously explode 11 U.S. airplanes over the Pacific Ocean - killing at least 4,000 people. The plot crumbled when Yousef's Manila apartment caught fire while he was making bombs.
*Yousef tested his tiny nitroglycerin bombs on a Japan-bound plane and killed one passenger who was sitting over an explosive.
*He launched a summer 1994 bombing on a Shiite Muslim shrine in Iran that killed 26 people.
*He tried several times to come up with a foolproof way to assassinate President Clinton and Pope John Paul II - at the behest of bin Laden.
*He was offered $68,000 to help kill then-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
October 29, 1999 USA TODAY
Prominent businessmen in Saudi Arabia continue to transfer tens of millions of dollars to bank accounts linked to indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden, senior U.S. intelligence officials told USA TODAY. The money transfers, which began more than five years ago, have been used to finance several terrorist acts by bin Laden, including the attempted assassination in 1995 of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia, the officials said. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is expected to raise the issue with Prince Sultan, the Saudi defense minister, during his visit to Washington next week. ....According to a Saudi government audit acquired by U.S. intelligence, five of Saudi Arabia's top businessmen ordered the National Commercial Bank (NCB), the kingdom's largest, to transfer personal funds, along with $3 million diverted from a Saudi pension fund, to New York and London banks. The money was deposited into the accounts of Islamic charities, including Islamic Relief and Blessed Relief, that serve as fronts for bin Laden. The businessmen, who are worth more than $5 billion, are paying bin Laden "protection money" to stave off attacks on their businesses in Saudi Arabia, intelligence officials said. .... The money transfers were discovered in April after the royal family ordered an audit of NCB and its founder and former chairman, Khalid bin Mahfouz, U.S. officials say. Mahfouz is now under "house arrest" at a military hospital in the Saudi city of Taif, intelligence officials said. His successor, Mohammad Hussein Al-Amoudi, also heads the Capitol Trust Bank in New York and London, which U.S. and British officials are investigating for allegedly transferring money to bin Laden. Amoudi's Washington lawyer, Vernon Jordan, could not be reached for comment. Mahfouz's son, Abdul Rahman Mahfouz, is on the board of Blessed Relief in Sudan. Suspects in the Mubarak attack are linked to the charity.
October 30, 1999 The Associated Press
The Boeing Co. produced a report in 1980 on fuel tank problems in one of its jumbo jets but did not give it to government safety investigators until this June, The Washington Post reported in its Saturday editions. The newspaper quoted National Safety Transportation Board officials as saying the report could have helped them focus on the problem - fuel tank overheating - that was a factor in the explosion of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island Sound in 1996. The four-volume report focused on a key issue that preoccupied TWA Flight 800 investigators - excess heat from the air conditioning bay of its E-4B jet, the military version of its 747, possibly creating highly flammable fuel vapors in the plane's central fuel tank. In a written statement Friday statement, the NTSB expressed "displeasure'' and "dismay'' about Boeing's delay. ..... Boeing declined official comment. The Post quoted sources as saying company officials now concede they should have released the 1980 report earlier but also contend it would not have affected the TWA Flight 800 probe. ..... Grassley said the TWA 800 tragedy could have been prevented if Boeing had volunteered its report after a 1990 fuel tank explosion on different model Boeing jet, a Philippines Airline 737, at the Manila airport, killed eight people. The NTSB said it did not learn of the 1980 report until last March, when it was listed on the agenda for a meeting of an Air Force task force studying the safety implications of the TWA Flight 800 explosion for the E-4B. A Boeing official was quoted by the Post as saying anonymously that the 1980 report was not directly related to the TWA Flight 800 investigation because it focused on testing the temperatures of different fuels in different situations, whereas the NTSB probe instead focused on the ignition source of the explosion.
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. Debris was found at sea off Nantucket, officials said. EgyptAir Flight 990 was headed to Cairo, Coast Guard Lt. Rob Halsey said. It originated in Los Angeles, according to EgyptAir officials at Cairo International Airport. The debris field was discovered 45 miles southeast of Nantucket ..... ''What we have right now is, we weren't able to establish contact,'' Halsey said. ''They had them on radar and then lost the radar picture.'' 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, said Eliot Brenner, chief spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington. Weather at Kennedy was good with 3 to 4 miles of visibility and light wind, the National Weather Service said. ..... The EgyptAir plane was on a route similar to the one taken by Swissair Flight 111, a McDonnell Douglas MD11, 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, said Boeing spokeswoman Barbara Murphy in Seattle. 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.
Note from website author: The abrupt descent
of Flight 990 is very similar to a SilkAir crash in December 1997 that
has never been explained. Why there is speculation about pilot suicide in
the SilkAir case escapes me when both black boxes failed and the tail came
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.
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.'' A U.S. intelligence official said at midmorning Sunday that agencies were pursuing the possibility of sabotage, but, "There's nothing to immediately point toward that.'' ..... 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.
Note from website author: This
incident occurred the day before President Clinton was leaving to meet with
Barak and Arafat to honor Rabin and further the Middle East peace process.
The following item from the Electronic Telegraph is therfore
August 15, 1999 The Electronic Telegraph Issue 1542
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 1, 1999 Newsmax.com
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.'"
Note from website author: Why is the government diverting airplanes and talking about "rockets" if it does not suspect that this could have been a missile attack on Egyptair 990? If you think this is impossible consider this. 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 and to listen to the audio tape please go to The Tale of the Tapes
November 2, 1999 The Associated Press
The Pentagon revealed Monday that 30 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.
November 2, 1999 Newsmax.com
EgyptAir Rocket Report Not a First. On Monday, NewsMax.com editor Christopher Ruddy reported that U.S. air traffic controllers were diverting planes to new flight paths just hours after EgyptAir flight 990 disappeared from the sky. Why? Listening to control tower radio traffic piped through the headset on his own London-bound flight, Ruddy overheard one controller advising pilots to follow new altitude coordinates. When a crew member asked why, he was told, "There are rockets being fired in the area." This amazing account stunned many NewsMax.com readers. But it shouldn't have. Because the incident wouldn't be the first time air traffic control radio chatter indicated some sort of missile activity off Long Island's coast, causing controllers to alter flight routes.
On April 26, 1999, TWA 800 researcher Michael Hull, writing for NewsMax.com, reported a similar episode that took place just months after TWA 800 went down: "TWA Flight 848 was to be involved in another incident four months after the downing of TWA Flight 800. On November 16, 1996, Pakistan International Airlines Flight 712 left Kennedy at 9:25 p.m. bound for Frankfurt. One of the pilots reported an orange light, which he described as a 'rocket,' coming from the left-hand side to the right-hand side of the airplane, and he stated that the 'rocket' had ascended through the aircraft's altitude. Boston apparently confirmed two unidentified blips on radar. The tapes were turned over to the FBI and NTSB since the object(s) rose directly out of Long Island Sound." "TWA Flight 884 (New York to Tel Aviv) was following close behind the Pakistani flight and was diverted by a controller. The government dismissed the incident as a meteorite observation, which leaves unanswered how the meteor ascended out of Long Island Sound." In an even more frightening example, Hull documents a hair-raising close encounter between a missilelike object and an Aug. 9, 1997, Swissair flight bound for Zurich, Switzerland.
"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."
"March 5, 1999 www.cbcnews.com Ottawa (CP)
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.' (Tape was provided by John Bergman and obtained through the filing of an FOIA request to the FAA.)"
Hull's Web site offers a transcript of the conversation between Swissair 127 pilots and ground controllers:
SWR 127: Center Swissair 127
Controller 1: Swissair 127 -- go ahead.
SWR 127: Yes, sir. I don't know what it was but it just overflew like ... like a couple of hundred feet above us. ... I don't know if it was a rocket or whatever but incredibly fast in the opposite direction.
Controller 1: In the opposite direction?
SWR 127: Yes, sir. And the time was 2107 [5:07 p.m. local time]. It was too fast to be an airplane.
Controller 1: OK. Thank you.
Controller 1: USAir 986 -- Did you see anything like a missile in your area - perhaps off to your right?
US Air: I'll take a good look, but if it's goin' that fast I probably won't get a chance. We just saw Swissair go by a minute ago.
Controller 1: OK. Thanks.
SWR 127: Swissair 127. We had no T-CAS [collision avoidance] warning. It was way too fast, I guess.
Controller 1: Swissair 127 -- thank you.
Controller 1: Swissair 127 -- How far above you was it?
SWR 127: It was right over us -- right above ... opposite direction ... and ... I don't know two, three, four hundred feet above us.
Controller 1: OK. Thank you.
SWR 127: All I can say -- 127 -- is that the three of us saw a white object -- it was white and very fast.
Controller 1: Swissair 127 -- thank you.
Controller 1: Northwest 550. Did you see anything similar to a missile or a UFO in your vicinity -- maybe about three minutes ago?
NW 550: We heard that report but we haven't seen anything -- Northwest 550.
Controller 1: USAir 1800 -- you didn't see anything either?
USAir: We saw nothing. ...
Controller 1: Hey, Chris. Swissair 127 ... he had a UFO or a rocket or something almost hit him in my airspace.
Controller 2: A UFO or a rocket almost hit the Swissair 127?
Controller 1: Yeah, it went right above him -- two or three hundred feet, he says. Some kind of white object. They're checking into it here, but if he says anything to you ... just to let you know.
Controller 2: OK. Thank you.
The the above transcript, along with a real audio version on tape, is available at Hull's Web site, "The Hull Thread," under The Tale of the Tapes
November 4, 1999 From Newsday (LI) Edition: Nassau and
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, down, 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 toldtheir 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." .....
November 7, 1999 Seattle Times
In a harsh rebuke of Boeing, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Jim Hall last week criticized the company's corporate culture and its "statistical" approach to aviation safety. A day later, a U.S. Senator senator blasted the company for not forwarding to crash investigators an important scientific study. And at the end of the week, Boeing continued a quiet pursuit of far-fetched theories in another crash, the downing of TWA Flight 800 three years ago. While totally unrelated to the EgyptAir crash, Boeing-hired scientists scoured the debris searching for evidence that a bomb or missile brought down the Boeing 747, though FBI and NTSB investigators have long ruled out sabotage as a cause. While some critics had accused Boeing of quietly pushing a bomb-and-missile theory, the tests and court records reveal for the first time evidence that Boeing has actually refused to rule out a bomb or missile in the July 1996 TWA crash. ..... Boeing engineers are again playing a critical role as the investigation into the fate of EgyptAir Flight 990, a Boeing 767 jetliner, gets under way in Rhode Island. The jet plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nantucket, Mass., one week ago, killing all 217 aboard. At the same time last week, Boeing was continuing to pursue evidence of foul play in the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, N.Y. Two years after the FBI and federal aviation investigators ruled out a bomb or missile in that crash, Boeing has refused to abandon the sabotage theory. Safety officials have concluded that the jet's center fuel tank exploded but have yet to identify the ignition source. .... Boeing's refusal to eliminate a bomb or missile as a cause of that earlier crash is a strategy that appears to be coming largely from company attorneys, including those at the Seattle firm Perkins Coie, which is defending Boeing in a lawsuit filed by family members who lost loved ones in TWA Flight 800. While that case is pending, several other families have settled their cases. But the legal message also is being echoed by Boeing's top official, Chairman Phil Condit, who told The Seattle Times last week that the bomb-or-missile theory "is improbable at this point. But until you find a probable cause, you are never sure." Grassley, the Iowa senator who has been looking into the flaws in the investigation of Flight 800, said Boeing could be inviting ridicule by trying to disprove the NTSB, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and others who rejected bomb and missile theories. "How can you argue with four government agencies?" Grassley asked. "I don't think they enhance their own public relations if they continue to pursue the missile or bomb theory." Among the ways Boeing is actively chasing a bomb or missile theory in the TWA crash: At the demand of Boeing attorneys, chemical and metallurgical tests were conducted Thursday to scrutinize Flight 800 wreckage in search of microscopic remnants of a bomb, a missile or shrapnel, according to people familiar with the tests. In the past few months, Boeing has been reviewing FBI interviews with witnesses, many of whom claimed that they saw a sliver of light streaking toward the aircraft before it exploded. FBI and Central Intelligence Agency analyses discounted the sightings as mistaken. For the past year, Boeing also has refused in court records to rule out a bomb, air-to-air missile, surface-to-air missile or improvised explosive device in the July 1996 crash in which 230 people died. And, as part of a legal strategy to defend against a Flight 800 lawsuit, Boeing has continued forwarding a theory first posed to the NTSB: that a missile exploded outside the 747 and a flaming fragment pierced the fuselage and ignited the center fuel tank. "What we're doing is analyzing the available information to determine what defenses are appropriate," Boeing General Counsel Ted Collins said. "We haven't reached any conclusions. We aren't going to advance a defense that doesn't make any sense. We are trying to find out what happened." ..... And for more than a year now, federal investigators have repeatedly tamped down bomb-and-missile suggestions as the work of paranoid conspiracy theorists unwilling to face hard facts. Some theories postulate that a Navy missile was at fault and allege a government cover-up. Steve Pounian, a New York attorney representing families suing Boeing over the crash, predicted Boeing's aggressive pursuit of a missile theory would eventually backfire. "You wonder how long they can keep saying that (it might have been a missile) while they are a major contractor of the government," Pounian said. "I can't believe they are going to say it is a Navy missile. How they can say that with a straight face and sell government contracts?" Boeing's lawyers are unwilling to go as far as to say a bomb or missile is improbable. The only cause the company is legally willing to categorize as unlikely - at this time - is a meteorite. "Until such time as a cause is determined, a missile of any type cannot be ruled out as a possible cause," Steven Bell, a Perkins Coie attorney Boeing, wrote in a court document as part of a Flight 800 lawsuit. Boeing spokesman Russ Young said it is not up to Boeing to rule anything out. "The NTSB seems to have crossed off various theories, but there has been no 'Eureka!' discovery," Young said. "We don't cross off theories. The NTSB investigates the accident." .... "Is Boeing running the investigation or is the NTSB?" asked James Kallstrom, the former assistant FBI director who ran the Flight 800 investigation. "Who's running the investigation? I point out that the whole thing itself, the party system, has a built-in conflict of interest." For nearly 12 hours Thursday, tests were conducted on part of the Flight 800 fuel tank to search for soot, metallic debris, paint or any other surface deposits and analysis will begin to determine their potential source. The NTSB reluctantly approved the examination requested by Boeing. The tests, being performed by Chantilly, Va.,-based AR Tech Testing, will analyze the wreckage with scanning electron microscopes and other sophisticated devices to look for fractures. A separate test on a pump was conducted for the plaintiffs in the case. ...
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. .... 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. "The plane crash may have been due to surface-to-air missile which hit the wrong target or a destructive laser ray aimed at the aircraft by one of the quarrelling US security services," Ragab said. "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. Kurtzer responded with a letter to both Ragab and Egyptian Information Minister Safwat Sherif. But Al Gomhuriya waited four days until it published the ambassador's reply. "Insinuations of possible cover-up by U.S. authorities, potential intelligence secrets, deliberate delays and obfuscation in the investigation, missiles and 'laser rays' 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." Kurtzer said this was the second time he had written to Ragab in recent months to "protest irresponsible and malicious comments about the efforts of American authorities in responding to disasters which affect the American people."
November 8, 1999 The Associated Press
While the federal government has ruled out sabotage in the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, The Boeing Co. has continued investigations into theories the 747 jetliner was destroyed by a bomb or missile. The Seattle Times reported Sunday that chemical and metallurgical tests were performed Thursday on the TWA wreckage, aimed at finding microscopic remnants of a bomb, a missile or shrapnel. .... "Boeing has not ruled out any possibilities,'' spokeswoman Susan Davis told The Associated Press on Sunday. Despite the government's dismissal of the missile or bomb theory, Davis said, "Until a cause has been identified, we'll look at all the possibilities.'' Boeing Chairman Phil Condit last week acknowledged the bomb or missile theory is "improbable at this point.'' However, "Until you find a probable cause, you are never sure,'' he said. .... The FBI stepped out of the investigation in 1997 after finding no evidence to support a bomb or missile theory. The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that the catastrophe was caused when the jet's center fuel tank exploded. In addition to the 12 hours of tests performed Thursday, Boeing has been reviewing FBI interviews with witnesses, many of whom claimed they saw a streak of light moving toward the aircraft before it exploded. FBI and CIA analyses discounted the sightings as mistaken. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who has scrutinized the investigation of Flight 800, said Boeing risks ridicule by continuing to pursue a theory ruled out by the NTSB, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and other experts. "How can you argue with four government agencies?'' Grassley asked. "I don't think they enhance their own public relations if they continue to pursue the missile or bomb theory.'' Most families of the people killed in the crash have sued TWA and Boeing for negligence. Boeing has settled cases with several families for undisclosed amounts.
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.
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."
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. The recorder stopped shortly afterward, and the final five to 10 seconds of information on its tape are still being analyzed by safety board technicians, Hall said. 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.''
November 11, 1999 The Associated Press
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.
November 11, 1999 NY Times
A newly declassified court document shows the F.B.I. argued against freeing an Egyptian man who has been jailed for more than three years on secret evidence because it would improve his credibility among Arabs and people "would be more inclined to listen to him." The man, Nasser K. Ahmed, has been detained since April 1996 while the government has tried to build a case that he had links to terrorist organizations. In an July 30 opinion, an immigration judge rejected the F.B.I.'s contention that Ahmed was a threat to national security and ordered his release. In a response included in a classified appendix to the opinion that was released Wednesday, the bureau argued that Ahmed should continue to be detained not only because of the secret evidence against him but also because agents believed he would, if freed, become even more influential among Arabs because of his lengthy imprisonment. "His prominence in the community will increase if he is released," an unnamed F.B.I. agent who gave secret testimony against Ahmed told the judge. "He would be more well known, lending to his credibility in the community, both inside the United States and outside the United States." ...Russell A. Bergeron Jr., a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the agency did not discuss "particulars of cases still pending before the court." He said it would also be inappropriate to comment on evidence developed by the F.B.I. A bureau spokesman, Joseph A. Valiquette, had no comment. The document was not completely declassified, so it was not possible to see the full extent of the government's secret evidence and the judge's analysis of it. In the declassified part, however, Judge Livingston says that much of the secret evidence was difficult to evaluate because it was "double or triple hearsay." He also questions the reliability of some government sources and cites the description of one source as "a friendly foreign intelligence service." "A very real concern of this court," the judge said, is whether Egypt was the source of secret evidence against Ahmed, who had worked as an aide to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a strong critic of the Egyptian government, during Abdel Rahman's 1995 trial in the plot to blow up landmarks in New York City. Judge Livingston cited "the very real danger that the Egyptian government may seek to silence Sheik Rahman by persecuting" Ahmed, who has been seeking political asylum in the United States. The judge rejected other evidence suggesting Ahmed was linked to terrorist activities and said his links to Abdel Rahman were not evidence that he was a threat to national security.
November 12, 1999 NewsMax.com
The mystery of EgyptAir 990's fatal crash into the ocean could be traced to the flight crew's personal problems, the Boston Herald is reporting. "There is not a single thing to indicate a blast or criminal activity," one law-enforcement source told the newspaper. "We are looking at various scenarios involving people in the cockpit . . . looking at the entire crew . . . looking at the passengers . . . all aspects of what could be involved in this. "That includes financial problems and personal situations of those on board." .... According to a story in Friday's Herald: Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board said a flight-crew member had become so worried that something was going to happen to the plane that he left money and a message for another crew member's family. Flight attendant Hassan Sherif, 26, phoned his wife-to-be in Cairo shortly before boarding the doomed flight in New York and said he was "very worried" that "there was something wrong with the plane." He and another flight attendant who were close friends were to be married shortly to two sisters in Cairo. Flight officer Adel Anwar also was to be married within days, and had changed shifts to return home sooner to his fiancee. His brother told reporters she had quit her job at a travel agency on the very day of the crash, had packed her honeymoon luggage and was decorating an apartment she would have shared with Anwar. One crash investigator said, "The accident side has come up empty-handed so far. However, the other side has been pursuing some very interesting leads that this aircraft was in danger." ....
November 12, 1999 CNN
Newly recovered data from EgyptAir 990's flight data recorder indicate the jet's engines apparently cut off during a near-supersonic plunge, officials said Friday. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall said the engines changed from "run to cutoff" around 18,000 feet. "The changes in these and other engine parameters are then consistent with both engines shutting down," Hall said. "These data raise many questions ... We cannot at this time explain the circumstances that were occurring on Flight 990 that resulted in the flight profile I just described. We'll not attempt to speculate about it."
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. Greg Phillips, the National Transportation Safety Board's investigator-in-charge for the crash, said that only about two seconds of water-damaged data remain to be retrieved up to the point when the recorder cut off. But so far, the recorder only tells what happened, not why..... 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.
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. National Transportation Safety Board chairman James Hall said the cockpit voice recorder was recovered at 10:12 p.m. Saturday. He said it was found in the midst of wreckage deep in the Atlantic Ocean and that its ``pinger'' was detached from the box. ..... 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 Oct. 31, killing all 217 people on board. ..... Earlier yesterday, investigators suggested they may increase their focus on human factors in their search for the cause of the crash, while EgyptAir officials defended the training, performance and mental health of their crews. .... The Boston Herald, citing unnamed sources close to the case, reported Friday that investigators are looking into unusual behavior and concerns about the flight's safety voiced by one or more crew members before the fatal flight. The Associated Press, also citing an unnamed source, reported the FBI is investigating the emotional stability of the co-pilot. EgyptAir officials defended their crew yesterday, saying both pilot Ahmed al Habashy and co-pilot Adel Anwar underwent recent physical and psychological checkups and were pronounced fit. Al Habashy was examined 10 days before the crash and Anwar less than five months before. .... Al Habashy reportedly was within months of retirement. Anwar had exchanged slots with another flight officer in order to fly home sooner, because he was due to be married Friday, Nov. 5, five days after the crash. .... The Herald reported Friday that the wife of one flight attendant had told reporters shortly after the crash that her husband had called her to voice concerns about the safety of the flight. In Cairo yesterday, Rania Rida, fiancee of flight attendant Hasan Farouk Toufic, denied media reports that he told her there was something wrong with the plane. "He just told me that the plane was delayed at Los Angeles and he is waiting for the plane,'' Rida said, speaking in English during an interview with Associated Press Television News yesterday. 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. "Someone on that airplane was trying to make that airplane crash and they succeeded," said one former United Airlines 767 pilot who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. "I racked my brain and I can't think of any emergency that would lead to these maneuvers," said Barry Schiff, a former TWA 767 pilot and an aviation accident investigator. "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, killing all 217 passengers and crew. Speculation is intensifying among FBI agents that the disaster off Massachusetts on October 31 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. Except in the case of fire, it is extremely rare for a pilot to switch off both engines in mid-flight as they can take several seconds to "relight". .... The FBI has indicated that it is focusing on the "emotional stability" of one of the co-pilots.
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.
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."
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.
November 16, 1999
Company Press Release
Radar Data obtained from NTSB Contradicts Official Conclusions about TWA Flight 800
AMHERST, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Nov. 16, 1999--With public interest in air safety currently intensified by the Egypt Air Flight 990 tragedy, the FLIGHT 800 INDEPENDENT RESEARCHERS' ORGANIZATION (FIRO) believes that certain assumptions by the Safety Board about the TWA 800 disaster need to be reevaluated in light of new insights into the official data. In June of 1999, FIRO began its detailed analysis of the TWA 800 radar data after obtaining the raw data directly from the NTSB. FIRO analysis reveals that the radar data contradicts CIA and FBI speculation that Flight 800 went into a "steep climb'' after the initial explosion. The raw radar data clearly shows that the aircraft did NOT make a steep ascent. For approximately 12 seconds after the initial event, TWA 800 maintained fairly constant ground speed. Any steep ascent would have necessarily reduced ground speed and would be observable in the radar data. For the detailed FIRO analysis, see: http://www.flight800.org/radar3.htm The CIA/FBI theory uses the "steep climb'' assumption to propose that the burning aircraft created the optical illusion of a flare-like object soaring upwards. The CIA claims that this illusion confused 96 of the eyewitnesses who reported observing a "flare-like object rising from the surface''. The "steep climb'' theory was the basis for the FBI/NTSB to totally dismiss those 96 eyewitnesses. FIRO has combed through thousands of pages of official NTSB public exhibit items on Flight 800. In the NTSB's only Eyewitness Exhibit (numbered 4A), there is not a single report of the aircraft climbing. Both the radar data and eyewitness testimony contradict the two official CIA and NTSB crash animations. On the basis of invalid assumptions, the eyewitnesses have been dismissed and denied the opportunity to make presentations at any of the hearings on TWA Flight 800 in the last three years. It is FIRO's position that the official investigation into the Flight 800 disaster has left critical questions unresolved and presented speculative theories as fact. Concern about this investigation is underscored by recent revelations that Boeing is pursuing its own analytical forensic research on Flight 800 wreckage. In the interest of furthering public understanding of this event, FIRO advocates a thorough congressional investigation into these basic issues. FIRO is a group of over 50 citizen researchers who have been pursuing an independent investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800 over the past two years. The group includes members with diverse backgrounds and expertise, including university researchers, engineers, technical, military, and aviation professionals.
November 16, 1999 NY Times
Government officials said Monday evening that the National Transportation Safety Board was considering asking the FBI to take over the case of EgyptAir Flight 990, after a review of the plane's cockpit voice recorder. The officials said they were focusing on a cryptic utterance, possibly a prayer. They said there were many questions about exactly what was said and what it meant, but they were concerned that the statement might be the last words of a pilot determined to destroy himself and the airplane. Officials would not characterize the words beyond saying that they may have been a prayer. The crew's conversations, other than uneventful ones with air traffic controllers, were in Arabic and senior officials of the safety board said that even with the aid of additional interpreters brought in Monday, they did not understand what was being said on the tape. The problems were ones of language, culture and hearing what people said in a noisy cockpit. Transportation investigators also stressed that they had not yet synchronized the voice tape with the flight data recorder tape, which would record events occurring on the airplane and could put the statements in context. For instance, a prayer being said after the plane began plummeting so fast that passengers were rendered weightless would not be suspicious. But a senior law enforcement official said Monday night he believed that the tape showed that after one of the two pilots left the cockpit, another crew member made the suspicious utterance. Only after that, the law-enforcement official said, was the autopilot disengaged, seconds before the plane began its fatal plunge. That sequence of events cast suspicion on the crew member, he said.
November 16, 1999 Associated Press - Cairo, Egypt
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 17,1999 New York Post
The tragedy of Egypt Air Flight 990 is a monstrous trip over the cliff by a bunch of twits who think getting a government job is Nirvana. On Sunday night, the pinstriped pooh-bahs of the National Transportation Safety Board, after days of mystery, mayhem and downright misinformation, leaked to all that it could not be sabotage, it could not be a kamikaze pilot. But on Monday, the chairman of this so-called "safety board," James Hall, said: "We are concentrating our efforts on determining from the evidence, including the cockpit voice recorder, whether or not this investigation is to remain under the leadership of the NTSB." When he was asked to elaborate, he repeated his foolish flack statement. Now he wants the FBI to come in. You know, real investigators. I was on the scene when many hearts broke after Flight 990 crashed. I could write a documentary on how this bunch of bureaucrats couldn't slap both sides of their derrieres with their own hands. Meanwhile, the Navy and the Coast Guard were literally risking their lives to put closure to an unspeakable tragedy. Why wasn't the FBI, trained cops, brought in immediately. But he and his gang managed to do one thing - 48 hours after everyone came from everywhere, to search for the remnants of their loved ones, he had a spokesman tell an understandably emotional audience that really, there wasn't much use looking for bodies. You'll only get an arm or a leg, don't bring a coffin - get a travel bag to take your son's hand home. The NTSB was created in 1967. Why? We had the Department of Transportation, we had the Federal Aviation Administration and we had the FBI and CIA to involve themselves in any disaster that may smell of evildoing. But typical of Washington, the suits found yet another way to get a bunch of inept cronies on a federal payroll. On Sunday night, the NTSB was spinning a yarn - the co-pilots were talking like old pals, and suddenly an alarm went off. In the eyes of the NTSB, that precluded evil intent. How? There could have been someone in the cabin who fired a gun that burst the sleeve and skin of the plane, causing disastrous results. There could have been someone with a bow and arrow who did the same thing. The cockpit recorder would not know. Everything has changed now, because on the voice recorder, there are words of religious hope calling to God. A kamikaze pilot? I don't know. Suddenly, half-wit Hall wants the FBI in, where they should have been in the first place. In New York City, if there is a suspicious body found, cops are immediately called in. It could be a homicide, a suicide, or natural causes. But cops are called in.
November 18, 1999 Associated Press
"Whether it is a defective airplane or whether it is an improperly trained crew or whether it is suicide by a deranged co-pilot, the airline is liable,'' said aviation lawyer Lee Kreindler. Kreindler represented dozens of families in the crashes of Swissair Flight 111, TWA Flight 800 and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He was retained Tuesday by two families of the EgyptAir disaster. On Wednesday, a $50 million wrongful-death lawsuit was filed by the estate of a New Jersey chef who died aboard Flight 990. Ghassan Koujan, 38, of Paterson, N.J., was among the 217 people aboard the Boeing 767. Attorney Gerald H. Baker said he believed the lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court, which named EgyptAir and the Boeing Co. as defendants, was the first to result from the tragedy.
November 18, 1999 The New York Times
The Egyptian government escalated its condemnation of American officials investigating the EgyptAir crash on Wednesday, saying that by focusing suspicion on one of the pilots they were rushing to judgment about the cause. Egypt's principal spokesman said a statement attributed to a relief pilot in the cockpit was being misinterpreted and did not show he was about to commit suicide by sending the plane into the Atlantic. .... The chief spokesman for the Egyptian government, Nabil Osman, in a telephone interview in Cairo, said the words that investigators believe had been uttered by the pilot, Gamil al-Batouti, were a Muslim prayer "said in a time of crisis when a person is facing a difficult situation." "But this prayer would never be said in terms of suicide," Osman said. "It's definitely not to be said by someone who is going to commit suicide, because suicide is against Islam." ..... The swift agreement by the United States to delay a criminal investigation reflects the exceptionally close relationship between Washington and Cairo on a variety of issues including the Middle East peace process and counterrorism. ..... American investigators said that their initial theory -- that one pilot was trying to drive the plane into the sea and the other was trying to save the jet by pulling the nose up -- was influenced by the absence so far of any evidence of mechanical failure. In addition, safety investigators said that today they had confirmed from the flight data recorder that the one of the elevators on the tail -- a kind of flap, controlled from the co-pilot's seat -- was in the "nose-down" angle while the other elevator controlled from the pilot's seat was in a "nose-up" position. The two elevators are normally aligned. (Note from website author: If one elevator is being forced up and the other is being forced down why did the plane not fly in a "corkscrew" dive?)
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. ...... Information from the flight data recorder .... shows that the elevators .... moved in opposite directions. .....Boeing has said the 767's elevators usually move no more than 2 to 3 degrees up or down when in flight. The board said llast week that the two were split by about 7 degrees, which would mean that each was deflected farther than is normal in ordinary operations, but in opposite directions.
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 Reuters
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.''
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.
December 5, 1999 NY Times
Engineers investigating the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 in 1996 have used a part from another Boeing 747 to demonstrate how a possible short circuit outside the plane's center fuel tank could have detonated the tank. In an experiment conducted early this year at an Air Force laboratory, and detailed in a forthcoming book on the crash, civilian researchers used a part of the system that measures the amount of fuel in the tank. The part, from a Tower Air 747 that is a contemporary of the T.W.A. plane that exploded in flight in July 1996 off Long Island, was contaminated with deposits of sulfur and copper, a problem found to be common on older planes, including Flight 800. The wires on the part, called a terminal block, are supposed to carry only a few thousandths of a volt of current, but researchers ran a current of 170 volts into the block. In a new terminal block, that short circuit would not cause a spark. But the 170 volts made the copper-sulfur deposit blow apart with a flash and a pop. The researchers theorized that a short circuit could send such a high current into the block from higher-voltage wires that run parallel to the fuel quantity system wires. The experiment, conducted by civilian scientists at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, is not proof of what caused the explosion of Flight 800, which killed all 230 people on board. But a senior official of the National Transportation Safety Board, which asked the Air Force to conduct the test, said, "I think that this is a possible mechanism." The part was removed from a Tower Air plane because the deposits were thick enough that they were causing short circuits on the terminal block and giving erratic indications of fuel levels. The deposits are what engineers call "semiconductive," because they can conduct electricity if the current is small, but if the current is high, they break apart. The sulfur comes from fuel and the copper from wiring. Wreckage from the fuel tank of Flight 800 showed such deposits, too, but not nearly as thick. But David H. Johnson, a materials engineer at Wright-Patterson, who examined parts from the wreckage, said it was impossible to say how thick the film of copper and sulfur had been at the time of the crash. "Those things had been soaked in salt water a considerable time," he said in a telephone interview. "There's washing action while on the ocean bottom, as well as when these parts were pulled up." The deposits, he said, "are fairly fragile." Johnson and a colleague, George A. Slenski, did not measure the energy given off by the deposit when it was subjected to 170 volts, but Slenski described it as "a large flash." The precise amount that would have been required to detonate the fumes in the nearly empty center fuel tank is also unknown and probably unknowable, engineers say, because it depends on knowing the precise temperature and amount of fuel present. Another gap is that investigators have not shown just how the higher current could enter the wires. "We haven't demonstrated the whole chain," said the senior official at the safety board. "We've demonstrated some pieces of it." But the book, "Deadly Departure," which is to be published in February by Cliff Street Books, also points out that the low-voltage wires run to the cockpit bundled with other wires, including those used for lighting. The lighting system, said Slenski, is a 120-volt, three-phase system; under certain circumstances, it could give off 170 volts. The book, by Christine Negroni, a former reporter for CNN, traces the history of fuel and wiring system issues that may have played a role in the crash. But the senior official of the safety board said the board's staff was not yet ready to present the five-member board with a report that gives a probable cause. Board officials hope that will happen in the spring, although they once hoped to have it done before the end of this year. At a hearing on the crash that the National Transportation Safety Board held in Baltimore in December 1997, several experts, including some of those who would later conduct the test at Wright-Patterson, testified that sulfur and copper deposits are common on older airplanes. On Dec. 10 of that year, at the Baltimore hearings, Robert Swaim, an aviation engineer with the board, said that sulfur residues could sustain only small amounts of electricity without rupturing. "Certain failure modes could combine to become a source of ignition," he said. But a Boeing expert testified that the deposits on the wreckage recovered off Long Island were not sufficient to cause a problem. Jerry Hulm, an electrical system expert from the company, said of the deposits, "We knew it was a semiconductive material, but we haven't seen any bridging on the probes that would indicate we had a problem on the aircraft."
December 9, 1999 Seattle Times
Boeing said this week that the lack of evidence as to what sparked the blast that downed TWA Flight 800 three years ago points to an "external source," such as a bomb or missile. Boeing's statement in court documents Tuesday is the strongest to date revealing an aggressive legal defense that blames the 747 crash on a bomb or missile - which the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board long ago ruled out. "That the NTSB in over three years of exhaustive investigation has been unable to identify any potential ignition source aboard the aircraft suggests that an external source caused the explosion," Boeing said. "Unless and until such time as a cause is determined, ignition sources external to the aircraft - of any type - cannot be ruled out." Boeing, the nation's second-largest defense contractor, acknowledged in the documents that "Boeing has no direct evidence that Flight 800 was brought down by a missile fired by the United States military or any other United States government entity." .... The comments, signed by Seattle attorneys Keith Gerrard and Steve Bell of the firm Perkins Coie, are in response to pretrial questions, called interrogatories, posed by lawyers for families suing Boeing over the crash. They also come on the heels of microscopic testing on the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 demanded by Boeing. Parts of the fuselage were obtained from the NTSB and tested at an independent laboratory in Chantilly, Va., last month to look for traces of a bomb or missile. According to a source close to the case, the plaintiffs' attorneys believe the results show no evidence that a missile or a bomb was involved. Lawyers for the families of those killed declined to comment, but the tests are expected to be discussed as early as this afternoon at a pretrial hearing before the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
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. A salvage ship chartered by the United States Navy, the Smit Pioneer, is expected to leave Quonset, R.I., on Sunday or Monday and begin work at the crash site for two or three weeks. 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.
December 18, 1999 NY Times
A man who took a car with a trunk full of bomb-making materials on a ferry from Canada, then led customs officials on a foot chase through the streets of a Washington port town, was arrested by Federal authorities, who said today that his target, his motives and his background remained a mystery. The man, who had more than 150 pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components in the car, the authorities said, was detained on Tuesday just after driving off the ferry from Victoria, British Columbia, to Port Angeles, Wash. He had made a reservation to stay in a downtown Seattle motel on Tuesday night, and also had reservations to fly from Seattle on Wednesday to New York and connect to a London-bound flight, federal authorities said today. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency are both investigating, a government official said today. How and when the man planned to use the material in his car are just two of the questions swirling around the puzzling incident, though, as the official said today: "There's nothing mysterious at all about what was in that car. It was stuff for a bomb, a powerful bomb." Government officials said the man's actions, use of fake identification and background fueled suspicion that he could be part of an international terrorist network. The officials said they believed that the man was of Algerian descent and that his name was Ahmed Ressam. They say he arrived in Los Angeles on Feb. 7 on a flight from Seoul, South Korea, and that he was next seen in Vancouver, British Columbia, in October. They said his passport, which listed his name as Benni Noris and gave his age as 28, was false. The officials also believe that both the Canadian driver's licenses he was carrying were falsely obtained. Both bore his picture, and one was under the name Benni Antoine Noris. The suspect was carrying maps of Washington, Oregon and California in the car, officials said. Shortly before 4 p.m. today, a slight man with short black hair dressed in a blue button-down shirt, black pants and jail booties was led into a federal courtroom here. In court papers, federal prosecutors indicated that he would be charged under the name Ahmed Ressam with illegally transporting explosive materials into the country, making false statements on his customs form and carrying false identification. A court interpreter spoke to him in Arabic, and an arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday. Mr. Ressam, who officials said also spoke French, did not speak, and the two public defenders who appeared with him did not speak to reporters afterward. The arrest comes after a recent State Department warning that it had received "credible information" about plans for terrorist attacks against American citizens around the Jan. 1 millennium celebrations. The department's "worldwide terrorism warning" advised Americans to stay away from "large gatherings and celebrations" throughout the world for the rest of this year, but it did not specify any groups planning attacks or state where such attacks might occur. Two federal officials in Washington said today that the C.I.A. had been called in on the case. One said the agency was asked to join the investigation because of suspicions that the man might be tied to terrorists. The incident in Washington State began on Tuesday when the man drove off the ferry from Victoria, said Pat Jones, a spokesman for the United States Customs Service. An inspector started asking him routine questions and, noting that he appeared very nervous, asked him to step out of the car. The man initially refused, Mr. Jones said, causing the inspector to call for backup. The man then got out of his car and ran away, stopping in a brief and unsuccessful effort to commandeer a passing car, then, a few blocks later, to hide under a truck. He was caught about six blocks from the Port Angeles ferry terminal. Several plastic garbage bags containing more than 130 pounds of two kinds of powder, later identified by the Washington state police crime laboratory as urea and sulfate, as well as two jars of a yellowish liquid found to be nitroglycerine, were found in the trunk of the car, in the spare-tire compartment. The car also contained four black boxes, each with a circuit board connected to a Casio watch and a 9-volt battery, apparently to be used as timing devices, a government official said. Urea and nitroglycerine were two of the main ingredients in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Urea is a chemical sold for melting ice and is used in fertilizer. It takes more technical skill to make it into a bomb than was employed by the two Americans who killed 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995 with a huge but crude bomb made of fuel oil and fertilizer. The World Trade Center bomb, carried out by Islamic radicals, was built with a main charge of urea nitrate -- a combination of 1,200 pounds of urea and about 105 gallons of nitric acid, a chemical widely used in industrial etching -- and a booster made of nitroglycerine. The motel where Mr. Ressam made a reservation is a few blocks from the Seattle Center, a complex of public buildings, including the Space Needle, that is to be the site of New Year's Eve celebrations.
December 18, 1999 Reuters
Eleven men are awaiting trial in Canada in connection with the financing of Algerian extremist groups operating in France and other countries ... the men were arrested in September on charges related to .. thefts of laptop computers, cell phones ... the men were funneling money garnered from the thefts to Islamic guerrilla groups overseas. An investigation revealed that the activities were linked to a network in France, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Bosnia and Canada.
December 18, 1999 ABCNews.com
Ressam was already wanted by Canadian authorities. There is a Canada-wide immigration arrest warrant and a British Columbia-wide arrest warrant out for him for theft of less than $5,000, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Seattle
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, as law-enforcement agents pursued evidence that he had been traveling with a companion who remains at large. .... 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, an Islamic militant who has threatened to carry out terrorist attacks against Americans during Year 2000 celebrations New Year's Eve. "These are devices we have seen before," said Vincent Cannistraro, speaking last night from his home in McLean, Va. "They were used among groups affiliated with bin Laden in attacks in the Philippines (Note from website author: See Musing #8 for more details on links to 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. Court documents filed yesterday revealed the prosecutors' first suggestion of the suspect's plans. They 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. .... Because the motel where Ressam was booked is only blocks from Seattle Center, law-enforcement officials said they were investigating the possibility of a terrorist bombing planned for the Year 2000 New Year's Eve celebration at the Space Needle. The event is expected to draw tens of thousands of millennium revelers. Evidence that Ressam may have an accomplice who is still at large came from Vancouver, B.C., where Canadian law-enforcement agents yesterday descended on the 2400 Motel in Vancouver, B.C., and seized registration records for a room that was occupied by two men beginning Nov. 19. The pair left Tuesday, the day Ressam was arrested. Prosecutors said fingerprints examined by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were used to identify Ressam, who they said has a criminal history in Canada for theft and immigration violations.
December 22, 1999 13 Tevet 5760 (Jewish calendar)
A jumbo jet has crashed near Stansted Airport in Essex, killing up to four crew members. The Boeing 747 Korean Air cargo plane crashed minutes after taking off from the airport north-east of London on a flight to Italy. There are reports that it exploded in mid-air. Eyewitness Neill Foster, who was driving from the airport terminal to the M11 when the plane crashed, said: "There was a large flash followed by a large bang. "There was lots of falling debris, all on fire falling on roads surrounding the area." Annette Brooke-Taylor told how she was at a service station near Stansted when they saw the plane explode. She said: "There was a big explosion and huge flames in the sky. It was a sort of mushroom shape. An incredible sight. It lit up the sky. "There was a tremendous noise. There were lots of flaming particles in the sky and then it went very quiet and then we realised something terrible had happened." (Note from Website author: This date in the Jewish calendar is the anniversary date of the downing of PA 103. For further details see the article 'Strange Bedfellows')
December 26, 1999 The Electronic Telegraph Issue 1675
The highjackers of an Indian airliner with more than 160 hostages on board were threatening last night to fly from southern Afghanistan to the capital Kabul and crash the jet if they were refused permission to land. The threat came as an extremist Islamic faction linked to the exiled Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the hijacking. Last night they demanded the release from prison in India of the leader of a Kashmiri militant group who kidnapped and murdered five Western tourists, including two Britons, in 1995 . The jailed terrorist, Malauna Masood Azghar, is the head of the outlawed faction, Harkat al Mujahideen (formerly Harkat al Ansar), that seized the holidaymakers. The Britons who died were Keith Mangan, 34, from Middlesbrough, and Paul Wells, 23, from Blackburn. Harkat has camps in eastern Afghanistan next to bin Laden's base and receives training and funding from the terrorist leader. The hijacked Airbus 300 jet - whose passengers include several honeymooning couples - arrived at the southern Afghan city of Kandahar yesterday. It spent much of the day on the runway, only yards from one of bin Laden's main hideouts in the airport itself. The terror chief's Afghan hosts - the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime - have rejected the gunmen's request for asylum. A local aviation official told the Reuters news agency: "We have already provided fuel to the plane and food, but the hijackers have refused to go." "They [the hijackers] say, 'If you insist on our departure from Kandahar, then we will land in Kabul. If the permission for landing in Kabul is not given, then we will crash the plane.'" They insisted on remaining in Afghanistan. If the links with bin Laden prove correct, the hostages' fate lies in the hands of the world's most wanted man, who has declared a jihad (holy war) against India and the United States. The hijackers - said to number between five and seven - killed at least five people on the jet, which was on a scheduled flight from Nepal to New Delhi when they seized control. The incident, which has put airports all over the world on a state of high alert, began on Friday afternoon after Indian Airlines flight 814 had taken off from Kathmandu. The Indian Airlines hijacking was described by United States intelligence officials as a possible "first strike" of the holiday period by Osama bin Laden.They suspect that the Saudi terrorist has ordered fundamentalist Islamic militants to stage attacks in America and elsewhere in the run-up to the Millennium. Although his involvement in the hijacking has not been confirmed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a security crackdown. International airports have put staff on red alert. FBI officials say that they have evidence that at least one group plans to bomb power stations and, possibly, nuclear installations. In New York, police have been checking sewers under Times Square before New Year celebrations there. The FBI has also warned Americans to be on the alert for suspicious packages posted from Frankfurt, Germany. Airline passengers have been banned from taking wrapped presents in their hand luggage. The measures follow the . An Algerian, Ahmed Ressam, 32, was caught driving a car - allegedly filled with explosives - into Washington state last week. He once trained as a guerrilla in Afghanistan, according to Canadian intelligence. Yesterday, Canada issued a warrant for the arrest of a possible associate of Ressam. A woman, Lucia Garofalo, who was stopped at the Vermont border on Wednesday, has been linked to Algerian Islamic groups supporting terrorism. Her car was later said to have tested positive for traces of explosives. NBC television reported yesterday that the FBI was tracking up to six terrorist cells inside the US.
December 30, 1999 USA Today
Crews from the National Transportation Safety Board have recovered about 70% of the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 990 and located the plane's remaining engine on the ocean floor. ''Next week, investigators will begin examining the wreckage thoroughly to see if it sheds additional light on the extensive information gleaned from the two flight recorders,'' Hall said. ''Should the need arise, arrangements will be made to recover more wreckage.'' A Navy nuclear research submarine mapping the crash site used video and sonar to locate the second engine last week. The images showed damage that indicate the engine was generating little or no power when the aircraft hit the water, supporting evidence from the flight data recorder that the engines were shut off during the crash, Hall said. Parts of the Boeing 767's other engine already had been raised, along with sections of the wings, tail and body, Hall said. Lopatkiewicz would not provide details on the human remains recovered.