sitemap Database of Events from October 2000 - December 2000

The Hull Thread

Chronology of Events From October 2000 - December 2000

(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 10, 2000     NY Times
An unexpected delay was granted in the Lockerbie bombing trial today when prosecutors surprised the court by announcing that they had new evidence "of some complexity and considerable sensitivity" that they needed time to consider. The chief prosecutor, Colin Boyd, would not describe the evidence, but said it came from a foreign country, not the United States, that it bore on the defense's likely cross-examination of his witnesses and that it would probably have to be disclosed to the defense. Scottish law requires that prosecutors tell defense lawyers about any evidence exculpatory of their client, and the Lockerbie prosecutors have already been sharply criticized on that score. His request for a delay until Oct. 17 was granted. The only prominent witness the prosecution is still expected to call is a Palestinian terrorist named Muhammad Abu Talb, who is now imprisoned in Sweden for bombing American and Jewish targets in Europe. Defense lawyers are trying to blame him and other Palestinians, not the two Libyans on trial, for the destruction of Pan Am flight 103, which crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people. Whatever the new evidence is, said Robert Black, a University of Edinburgh law professor who closely follows the trial, the way Mr. Boyd phrased his request implies that it will tend to exonerate the Libyans and support the defense's theory that Mr. Talb and other Palestinians based in Germany and Sweden bombed the plane. Mr. Talb was an early suspect before the investigation shifted to the Libyans. Mr. Boyd said he received the mysterious new evidence on Oct. 4.

October 15, 2000  NY Times
Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim guerrilla movement, appears to be playing a growing role in encouraging the Palestinian uprising against Israel in recent days. Closely coordinated with Iran, Hezbollah's strategy means that a new force — an uncompromising one — is moving into the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. The Hezbollah strategy was formed last summer, experts say, when, uncertain what to do after the Israeli withdrawal, Sheik Nasrallah and other leaders journeyed to Tehran for advice. Ali Khamenei, the Veleyet-e-Faqi, or chief religious guide, told the Hezbollah leaders that their role was to struggle for the Muslim liberation of Jerusalem. The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi, consulted here this week with Sheik Nasrallah on their strategy. "The issue of Jerusalem is not only important for the Palestinians, but all the Muslims of the world," Mr. Kharazi told reporters after the meeting. "This indicates how deep the Israeli provocation was in its attack on Al Aksa Mosque." The Iranian foreign minister also met with the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, who stopped here to inquire about Israeli captives. Through Mr. Annan, Israel conveyed an undisclosed message about the hostages, and, in turn, Mr. Kharazi asked that a message be delivered warning against any retaliatory attack against Lebanon or Syria. "Please convey this warning to Israel," he said, according to Beirut newspapers and IRNA, the official Iranian news agency. "The counterreaction will be extremely violent, and no one will be able to stop Lebanon's Islamic resistance movement from retaliating. "Nasrallah is addressing all Palestinians as `holy war comrades-in- arms' and has directly proposed to them the strategy of gradually escalating the intifada weapons from stones to daggers and ultimately to firearms and other means of military combat," Mr. Kassir of al-Mustaqbal quoted senior Hezbollah commanders as saying. "The party is extensively trying to find ways of sending arms to Fatah, to the police force as well as to Hamas and Islamic Jihad to keep the intifada afire." Hezbollah's message comes at a point at which there appears to be growing alienation from Mr. Arafat among the younger street fighters of his own Al Fatah party. They are known as the Fatah Hawks or the Tanzim, meaning organization. Last Sunday, the Tanzim reportedly distributed an unauthorized leaflet declaring a "popular war" against Israel. The leaflet appeared to draw Mr. Arafat's younger fighters closer both to Hamas and to Hezbollah. "We are glad our brothers in Fatah have come to realize the enemy understands only the language of force," a Hamas official told the leftist daily Asharq, adding that they "must emulate the Lebanese resistance."

October 17, 2000  CNN
The Lockerbie trial was delayed yet again Tuesday to let prosecutors investigate new information from two unidentified countries that could prove vital in the trial of two Libyans accused in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.  Nearly 12 years after the explosion that killed 270 people, the Scottish prosecutors said new information surfaced earlier this month that may have "material bearing" on the defense case. The defense has alleged that Palestinian terrorists, not Libyan intelligence agents, were responsible for the bombing.  Prosecutor Colin Boyd told the tribunal his team was seeking cooperation from two countries and needed more time.  "While progress continues to be made ... we have no alternative but to adjourn," he said. The adjournment was "in the interests if securing a fair trial for the accused."  The judges granted a recess until Monday, but expressed concern about the "rather slow progress of the trial at this stage."  On Tuesday, Boyd said "nothing that has happened in the last week has altered the view of the Crown about the importance of this matter."  The prosecution has only one major witness to call before concluding its case. It had been expected to wrap up its case last week until the surprise announcement of new evidence to be investigated.  Waiting to testify is Mohammed Abu Talb, an Egyptian-born Palestinian who is one of 10 people named by the defense as the true culprits behind the bombing.  Abu Talb denies any connection to the Lockerbie attack. He was brought to the special Scottish court in the Netherlands from a Swedish prison where he is serving a jail sentence for terrorist attacks against Jewish and U.S. targets in Europe.

October 20, 2000   International Herald Tribune   (For further interesting connections  to Ali Mohamed see The Mystery of EgyptAir 990)
A former U.S. Army sergeant pleaded guilty Friday to helping plot the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa, saying Osama bin Laden once showed him where a suicide bomber could cause the most damage. The former sergeant, Ali Mohamed, 48, became the first person to plead guilty in connection with the bombings that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Mr. Mohamed said he met with Mr. bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire who has been portrayed by the U.S. government as the mastermind of the bombings, after checking out potential American, French, British and Israeli targets in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1993 and preparing a report containing photographs and sketches. ''Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American Embassy and pointed to where the truck could go as a suicide bomber,'' Mr. Mohamed said.  Mr. Mohamed, who entered the courtroom in leg shackles, stood in his prison blue uniform as he pleaded guilty to five counts. He admitted he conspired with Mr. bin Laden and others to murder Americans anywhere they could be found, to attack the U.S. military in Somalia and Saudi Arabia, to kill Americans at unspecified embassies and to conceal the conspiracy. He said the object of the conspiracy that he joined in the late 1980s was to force the United States out of the Mideast. Mr. Mohamed, a native of Egypt, was among 17 people named in an indictment that resulted from the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Mr. Mohamed left the U.S. Army in 1989 after three years of service. In the military, he earned a Parachute Badge and an M-16 Expert Badge, teaching soldiers in the Special Forces about Muslim culture. In entering his plea, Mr. Mohamed read from a statement in which he admitted he helped secretly move Mr. bin Laden from Pakistan to Sudan and trained members of his terrorist organization, Al Qaeda. ''The objective of all of this was to attack any Western target in the Middle East,'' Mr. Mohamed said.

October 21, 2000  NY Times
Mr. Mohamed offered new detail on the web of relationships that he said existed between Mr. bin Laden's organization and other terrorist groups, like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Mr. Mohamed said he arranged security for a meeting between the head of Hezbollah and Mr. bin Laden. He said that Hezbollah also provided explosives training for Mr. bin Laden's group and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The Egyptian group also obtained weapons from Iran, he said. In late 1994, Mr. Mohamed said, he was called by the F.B.I. and asked to fly back to the United States to talk about the coming trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian cleric who was later convicted of conspiring to blow up the United Nations and other landmarks. "I flew back to the United States, spoke to the F.B.I., but didn't disclose everything that I knew," he said. In 1998, after the embassy bombings, Mr. Mohamed said, he was planning to go to Egypt and then to Afghanistan to meet Mr. bin Laden. But it was then that he was subpoenaed before a grand jury in New York. "I testified, told some lies, and was then arrested," he told the judge.

October 31, 2000 Reuters
Defence lawyers in the Lockerbie case said on Tuesday they were investigating possible links between the 1988 bombing, a Palestinian group and the Balkans. A brief outline of key information that the defence said could affect the trial was revealed for the first time about three weeks after prosecutors received a mysterious letter and documents. Defence lawyers have already interviewed several people in an unidentified European country, but for which a Serbo-Croatian translator was needed, defence counsel William Taylor said. Judges granted another week's adjournment so the defence could continue to track down witnesses in the United States and Germany and seek the help of an unidentified Middle Eastern country to provide evidence. The new information concerns the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which the defence has accused of being responsible for the December 1988 explosion on Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland that killed 270 people. The information concerns how a bomb might have been manufactured and placed on the jumbo jet, Taylor said.

November 1, 2000 Reuters
About 48 people are believed to have been killed when a Russian-built plane exploded and crashed in northeastern Angola, according to diplomats and news agency reports Wednesday. Portugal's Lusa news agency said in a report from Luanda that 48 Russians had died in the crash late Tuesday (October 31, 2000). Angola has seen a string of plane disasters in recent years involving Russian-built planes which the formerly Marxist government obtained when it was backed by the Soviet Union. Last year, the UNITA rebel group claimed responsibility for shooting down at least two Russian-built Antonovs. One of them was downed in Lunda Sul province, the scene of the latest catastrophe. In February last year, two Antonovs crashed two days apart. One plunged into a poor Luandan neighborhood, killing around 30 people, including 20 on the ground. Jackie Potgieter, a Pretoria-based regional analyst, told Reuters it was possible that the plane had been shot down by UNITA rebels operating in the area. "It would be within the capacity of UNITA to bring the plane down. It would be in their interests. It would raise the profile of their activities again and it would force the Angolan government to concentrate forces in the area," Potgieter said. He said UNITA was known to have shoulder-fired SAM 7 missiles and was believed also to have some more modern SAM 16 missiles. A UNITA source told Reuters he could not comment on suggestions the plane was downed by anti-government rebels.

November 1, 2000   Glen H. Schulze Littleton, Colorado - A court approved expert on FDR analysis
When the TWA FL 800 43 data word subframes were blocked into 64 word record blocks a repetitive and orderly set of word group patterns were generated within each record block. This blocking, necessary to support the burst-recording and Checkstroke FDR functions, produced 43 different 64 word block groups each with a unique set of words. Of these 43 unique word block groups only one block starts with subframe word 1, only 1 block starts with subframe word no. 2, etc. Also, only one block ends with subframe word no.1, only one block ends with subframe word no. 2, etc.

The NTSB published their Tabular Data in a format which preserved the record block groups, separated usually by horizontal lines in their Data Tables. Although the NTSB did not publish the entire 43 word subframe contents recovered from the 64 word record blocks of FL 800 they did publish asignificant number of flight parameter words. This enabled analysts to easily identify the unique word block group associated with each record block entry in the NTSB Tables.

By arbitrarily defining the unique record block which starts with subframe word no. 1 as Superframe Block no. 1 we find the last NTSB entry block intheir FL 800 Tabular Data Charts No.1 and No. 2 is Superframe data block no.31. Therefore, the implication is the end of the FDR data stream occurred at the end of data block 31 in the 17th and last Superframe of FL 800 data.

But NTSB Addendum No. 2, Fig. 3, shows a different endpoint of the FDR tape. This Fig., an actual pictorial of the waveforms found at the very end of theFL 800 tape, is annotated with the following "Bits 1-9 of Word 4". This last word 4 was followed by an 8 bit postamble thereby verifying that word 4 was the last word in the last FL 800 record block. But, only one unique record block ends in subframe word 4, and it's block 35, not block no. 31!

Accordingly, waveforms for data record blocks 32, 33, 34 and 35 exist pictorially at the end of the FL 800 FDR tape but their flight parameter values have been withheld from the public dockets by the FBI/NTSB.

The flight parameter values in these last 3,000 bits of the FDR data stream, particularly the vertical and longitudinal accelerations, may well hold the answer as to what happened in these last four seconds of FL 800 to cause it's disintegration at 13,700 feet.

The terms "data record block", "data block", "record block" and "block" are used interchangeably in this analysis.

November 8, 2000  Private Communication
"Has anyone ever reported any information about USAir Flight 3684 from Baltimore to MacArthur (Islip, Long Island) Airport the evening of March 17, 1996 -- four months to the day before TWA Flight 800 went down? Just after dark, the plane was beginning its approach to MacArthur, when there was an explosion just forward of the tip of the right wing -- a ball of bright orange that appeared from inside the plane to be about 20 feet in diameter, followed by a concussion that shook the plane. Everyone looked at everyone else: "What the hell was that?" No announcement from the cockpit. As we got off the plane, we asked the flight attendant, who didn't have a clue. Next day and on several occasions afterwards, I sought information from the airline, the media, the FBI (Sorry, we can't comment on that, Ma'am). What happened? I could never find out. Does anyone know? If so, please refer me to sources".


Note from website author:   This is an interesting report for the following reason. On March 17, 1992 the Israeli embassy was bombed in Buenos Aires with suspicion falling on Islamic Jihad. Also in the United States on March 17, 1997 exactly one year after the USAir incident four aircraft flying out of Newark and LaGuardia reported seeing a missile. Here are the news reports and for the cocpit voice tapes please read see The Tale of the Tapes and "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
April 9, 1997       Los Angeles - Drudge Report
The Saint Paul Pioneer Press is set to report on Thursday that Federal authorities are investigating claims from pilots of three commercial jetliners -- including one from a Northwest Airlines DC-9 bound for St Paul, Minnesota -- that they saw what appeared to be a missile or rocket over the New York area the evening of March 17.  In the March 17 incident, the paper will report, the Northwest DC-9 took off around 7 p.m. from Newark International Airport in New Jersey. About 15 minutes into the flight, the captain of Flight 775 told the control tower of a possible missile sighting, according to the NTSB. Later, reports of similar sightings around the same time came in from the other two crews. In addition to the three separate crews, another pilot, operating an aircraft that had departed from La Guardia Airport in New York, reported seeing a similar sighting that night, a source tells the Press' Doug Iverson. He writes, "The possibility of a missile in commercial airspace is particularly significant in the aftermath of the crash of Paris-bound TWA Flight 800 moments after takeoff last July 17 from Kennedy Airport in New York. "If the object viewed in the New York sky March 17 was a missile, it raises a series of disturbing questions: How close was it, and who launched it?"  Similarly, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune was preparing to report on Thursday that one of the Northwest cockpit crews gave a live, verbal report of the March 17 "missile" sighting by radio to the Federal Aviation Administration's air-traffic-control tower on Long Island. "We are reviewing voice tapes and radar," a NTSB spokesman tells the Star Tribune .....
April 10, 1997          Reuter
Northwest Airlines pilots reported that they saw what appeared to be a missile or a rocket over the New York area the evening of March 17, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported Thursday. In a copyrighted story, the Pioneer Press reported that investigators are piecing together tapes of air traffic control radar recorded the night of the sightings.  Two other flight crews, from Delta Airlines and US Airways have filed similar reports, the newspaper said. The possibility that missiles are flying in commercial airspace is particularly significant in the aftermath of last summer's crash of TWA flight 800 minutes after takeoff from JFK International Airport in New York, the Pioneer Press said. The pilots of a Northwest Airlines DC-9 reported a possible missile sighting about 15 minutes into their flight from Newark International Airport in New Jersey in March, according to the Newspaper. A second Northwest flight crew, in an aircraft that left from La Guardia Airport in New York reported a similar sighting.

Can anyone believe this explanation?......
April 10, 1997      CNN
The Federal Aviation Administration now believes that a missile sighted by several commercial airline pilots flying over the northeastern United States on March 17 was actually part of a Navy test off the coast of Florida. The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation after four separate airline crews from three different airlines all reported seeing a rocket or missile that night.


November 9 2000  NY Times
After a month's delay for lawyers to investigate unexplained new evidence, testimony resumed in the Lockerbie trial today. But the prosecution's last long- awaited witness, a convicted Palestinian bomber whom the defense hopes to blame for the destruction of Pan Am 103, was not called, although he is under guard on this former NATO airbase. As soon as the prosecution tried to call him, a defense lawyer objected that he was merely an "advance spoiler" of its planned defense and that it was "unfair if not illogical" to call him before the defense team could finish verifying the mysterious new evidence that stopped the trial on Oct. 9. Presumably, this new evidence supports the defense theory that Palestinian terrorists in Germany and Sweden, not their Libyan clients, blew up the plane. The court revealed today that it would formally ask Syria to cooperate with the defense in finding some missing pages of a document that might help its case. A court source said a similar letter would be sent to Sweden. In past weeks, prosecutors saying they could not speak openly because lives were at risk have made oblique references to witnesses in America and to needing a Serbo-Croatian translator. Experts on the history of the investigation speculated that the American witness was a former Palestinian bombmaker and that terrorists had used safe houses in the former Yugoslavia. One witness expected later this week is Pierre Salinger, the former Kennedy White House spokesman and ABC correspondent. Mr. Salinger became known for his defense of a theory that TWA Flight 800 was downed by a missile in 1996, although investigators concluded that it blew up when a spark touched off fuel tank fumes. Two years ago, Mr. Salinger interviewed the defendants and believes them innocent. He has contended for years that Iran and Syria blew up the plane and that the United States and Britain kept it quiet because Israel was in peace talks with Syria.

November 11, 2000
The prosecution in the Lockerbie trial today tried to establish an alibi for a Palestinian bomber whom the defense plans to blame for the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103. The bomber, Mohamed Abo Talb, testified today after more than a month's delay caused by still secret new evidence concerning him. In his 90 minutes on the stand, Mr. Talb, a stocky 46-year-old in a goatee and dark suit, described himself as a longtime soldier in the Palestinian cause. He joined the People's Palestinian Struggle Front as a young man in Egypt, he said, traveled on false passports and lived in Jordan and Lebanon, working in the front's military wing and its security wing and as a bodyguard for its secretary general. In 1983, he said, he left the front and moved with his wife and children to Sweden to seek asylum. However, he was later accused of bombing Jewish and American targets in Europe, and since 1989 has been serving a life sentence for the fatal bombing of an airline office in Copenhagen. The police have linked him to a cell of Palestinian terrorists arrested by the German police in October 1988, three months before the Lockerbie bombing. In those raids, the police found bombs hidden inside Toshiba Bombeat radio-cassette recorders — just like the bomb that brought down Pan Am 103. One Scottish newspaper, quoting anonymous sources, has said "some form of confession" was handed over by Syria, whose new president, Bashar al-Assad, is trying to win favor with the West or with Libya. A later article in the same paper, Scotland on Sunday, said it describes the bomb's route from Syria to Germany on a Lufthansa flight.

November 15, 2000
A portrait of a Palestinian terrorist was slowly drawn today from the terrorist himself, a reluctant witness at the Lockerbie trial. Finally, the day ended with his angry refusal to say what the Soviet military trained him to do 30 years ago. The terrorist, Mohamed Abo Talb, who is serving a life sentence in Sweden in connection with a 1980's bombing campaign against American and Jewish targets in Europe, was cross-examined by the defense for the first time today. They seek to show that he, and not their Libyan clients, planted the bomb that blew Pan Am 103 out of the sky on Dec. 21, 1988. For much of the day, Mr. Talb answered diffidently. He said he was wrongfully convicted of the fatal bombing of a Copenhagen airline office in 1985. He admitted knowing some of the men who were arrested in a German police raid in October 1988, three months before the Lockerbie bombing, at which several bombs concealed in Toshiba Bombeat radio-cassette recorders were found. (A bomb in a Toshiba Bombeat brought down Pan Am 103.) He said he knew them innocently: one had repaired his car, another he met through a brother. He also admitted visiting a bakery in Malta that police have said was a terrorist cell's meeting place, but he said he merely helped the owner with bread deliveries while he himself was recovering from a stab wound. Clothes made in Malta were found in his Swedish home, he said, because he had brought back samples from the garment factory of the baker's brother. (Singed Maltese clothing was found in the Lockerbie debris and was presumably wrapped around the bomb.) Mr. Talb evaded the attempts of a defense lawyer, William Taylor, to trick him into admitting he knew a suspected Palestinian terrorist who was, according to currency records, in Malta the same week carrying $11,000. Mr. Talb flatly refused to say anything about what training he received in the Soviet Union in the 1970's, though he has told Swedish investigators that he learned the use of surface-to-air missiles.

November 15, 2000 WTNH - Channel 8  What really happened to TWA Flight 800?
A Connecticut woman is leading the fight to re-open the investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800. Last summer, the government closed the book on the case, blaming mechanical error for the tragedy. But one victim's sister Marge Gross and many others still insist a  missile launched from a boat on the water brought down the plane. Gross believes the FBI is lying to cover-up the real reason the plane crashed off the coast of Long Island just eleven minutes after take-off. "I sat at his casket before he was buried and promised him that no matter what it took, I would find out who did this to him," says Gross. More than four years later, Marge Gross is still trying to fulfill that promise to her brother.  "Had I never seen what I saw that night, I wouldn't doubt the FBI and the NTSB," says Paul Angelides. From the porch of his beach house on Long Island, Paul Angelides saw a streak of light heading up over the water. He says the flare appeared to come from a boat. "Then my impression became that I was watching some sort of military exercise," says Angelides.  James Kallstrom led the FBI's investigation into the crash. He says what Angelides saw was the plane already on fire, propelled upward, once the plane's nose fell off.  "I don't buy it. That air-craft was way out there, way out there. what I saw was way over - close to the beach, high up here," says Angelides.  "This whole thing that the government has done is preposterous," says Major Fred Meyer.  For the first time, Major Fred Meyer agreed to sit down for an in-depth interview on camera. He was in a helicopter the night of the crash on a training mission for the National Guard. "Right there, to my left-front, I saw a streak of light, red-orange in color, crossing the sky," says Meyers. Based on his experiences as a pilot in Vietnam, Meyer says that what he saw was a military explosive. "When you've seen missiles fly across the sky, and I've seen a lot of them, you know what a missile looks like flying across the sky," says Meyer. "It may be 100 years before the people know the truth about this. But they're going to have to kill every one of us to keep us quiet," says Meyer. Gross has sent the clothes her brother wore that day to a laboratory to determine if there are any traces of an explosive. She's also talking with attorneys and she plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the government. The family of the pilot of Flight 800 has told her they want to join the suit, as well.

December 6, 2000 The Independent
The trial of two Libyans accused of causing the Lockerbie bombing ground to a halt yesterday when lawyers defending Abdel Basset al-Megrahi asked for an adjournment until 8 January next year. The judges hearing the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands reluctantly granted the request to allow more time for a document, relating to new evidence, to be sent to the court by the Syrian government. The defence says the evidence establishes new links between Lockerbie inquiries by the German intelligence services and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Syrian-based organisation was high on the list of suspects for the bombing and is one of two Palestinian groups defence counsel have indicated they will blame for the tragedy.

December 8, 2000 The NY Times
Yemeni officials have told the Clinton administration that they have identified two key figures in the October bombing of the destroyer Cole, and intelligence officials say they believe that at least one of them is associated with the organization controlled by Osama bin Laden. A senior Yemeni official said yesterday that the man who ran the Cole bombing was Muhammad Omar al-Harazi, a Yemeni-born Saudi. American officials said yesterday that they believe that Mr. Harazi — who is known to Washington as Abdul Ali-Nashiri or Abdul al- Nassir — was connected with the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, in which more than 200 people died. One intelligence official identified Mr. Harazi as an explosives expert who works for al Qaeda, Mr. bin Laden's group accused of international terrorism. American and Yemeni officials identified another key figure in the plot as Jamal al-Badawi. Officials said he was in custody and was providing much of the information about the Cole bombing, in which 17 sailors died. American officials said Yemeni officials have also reported telephone records showing contacts before the Cole bombing between suspects in the attack and members of al Qaeda. American officials said that another suspect in custody told Yemeni officials that he was paid about $5,000 by an associate of Mr. bin Laden to help pay for the bombing of the Cole and to videotape the attack. American officials said that a further link to Mr. bin Laden had been established when Mr. Badawi told Yemeni investigators that he was trained in Afghan camps run by Mr. bin Laden and that he had fought with Mr. bin Laden's forces in Bosnia. Mr. Badawi had previously been identified by Yemeni officials as having helped to procure the fiberglass skiff that was used to carry at least a third of a ton of high explosives in the attack on the Cole, which blew a 40-by-60-foot hole at the ship's waterline, causing what the Navy has estimated at $240 million in damage.

December 30, 2000
Dear Senator Inhofe:
The New York Times reports this morning that you support keeping George J. Tenet at the CIA for at least a short time. Mr. Tenet should be replaced at the earliest opportunity. Let me tell you why. He was at least negligent in the handling of the serious security breaches of his predecessor, John Deutch. That alone is reason enough, but what is most troubling about Mr. Tenet is that the CIA has helped the Clinton White House cover up evidence of serious wrongdoing.

In 1997, the CIA produced a video that was supposed to be a simulation of the crash of TWA Flight 800. In April 1999, a CIA analyst explained the origins of this video to the National Transportation Safety Board witness group. The NTSB made a transcript of this briefing public earlier this year. It tells how the analyst developed a theory that would discredit the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses who had told the FBI that they had seen what appeared to be a missile on a collision course with TWA 800. The analyists solution was to claim that the only thing any eyewitness saw in the sky that night was the airliner after it blew up. The CIA video simulation of the crash was based on that theory. It was shown at the news conference held by James Kallstrom in November 1997, when he announced that the FBI investigation of the crash was being closed. Parts of it were aired by the TV networks.

This video made the ridiculous claim that after the plane's center-wing-fuel tank exploded and broke the nose off the plane, the jumbo jet proceeded to climb 3,000 feet, trailing burning fuel. It claimed that this was the streak of light that many of the eyewitnesses saw. It also claimed that some of them mistook the plane when it was falling into the sea for a rocket going up from the surface of the ocean.

The radar data that were released by the NTSB in 1999 prove that this is false. After the first explosion blew the nose off the plane, it immediately began its free fall into the ocean. The radar showed that its speed increased from 385 knots to 460 knots. That proves that it was falling, because heavy planes slow down when they ascend and speed up when they go into a free fall. Having lost its nose and its power, TWA 800 could not possibly have climbed 3000 feet. Aeronautic experts were astonished by the claim that it did, and eyewitnesses were insulted and angered by this clumsy effor to discredit their testimony.

One of them was Michael Wire, the eyewitness the CIA analyst said may have been the only person to see the whole event from beginning to end. Mr.Wire emphatically denies that the CIA video bears any resemblance to what he told the FBI agents who interviewed him. The CIA analyst told the NTSB witness group that the CIA had a problem with the FBI report on Wire's first interview and that the FBI to interviewed him again at their request. He claimed that in the second interview Wire corrected a statement he had made in the first interview, solving the problem.

This is false. Wire was interviewed twice by the FBI, once briefly by phone and again six days later face-to-face. That was months before the CIA became involved in the case. Wire says that he told them essentially the same thing both times -- that he had seen what appeared to be a firework rising from the far side of a house near the ocean, ascending high in the sky and then arching over and speeding out to sea. Seconds later he saw a fireball fall from the sky and very soon after that he heard and felt four strong explosions.

Dwight Brumley, a former Navy master chief, was also described as an excellent witness by the CIA Brumley was flying north on USAIR Flight 217 when he saw what appeared to be a missile speed past his plane at a lower altitude. He then saw an explosion ahead of his plane at the lower altitude. He said he did not see TWA 800, but he told the FBI that the passenger in the seat behind him, a Mr. Nugent, told him he saw its cabin lights before it was blown up. Brumley saw a missile overtaking his plane traveling north. Nugent saw TWA 800 in front of their plane traveling northeast. They both saw TWA 800 explode. Brumley and Wire alone should be enough to discredit the phony theory on which the CIA built its video simulation of the crash, but there are many more eyewitness reports that do the same.

It appears that the White House ordered the CIA to come up with something that would discredit the eyewitnesses because it could not accept the missile theory, which was the only explanation for the crash that was supported by both the forensic evidence and the witnesses. Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Navy aviator, is one of many aviation professionals who has looked at the evidence and concluded that it clearly shows that TWA 800 was downed by missiles. He has called for a congressional investigation.

That should not be necessary. If the Bush administration puts individuals dedicated to the truth in charge of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Department and the National Transportation Safety Board, it should have no difficulty in finding evidence in the files that will expose the cover-up of the cause of theTWA Flight 800 crash. Those appointed to head those departments, agencies and bureaus should be individuals who can be trusted to do just that. The absurd CIA video was a major part of the cover-up, and the head of the CIA should investigate it, release a report disavowing it and get rid of those responsible for producing it. George Tenet will obviously not do that.


I urge you to join Senator Shelby in pressing for the replacement of George Tenet with someone who respects the right of the public to information held by the CIA if its disclosure does not impede the performance of its mission or endanger national security.


Reed Irvine, Chairman, Accuracy in Media, Inc.

December 30, 2000  Reuters
The remains of 33 Egyptians killed in an EgyptAir crash off the U.S. coast were flown home to Cairo on Saturday more than a year after the still mysterious accident, airport sources said. EgyptAir Chairman Mohamed Fahim Rayan told reporters at the airport that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would issue a final report on the accident in February and EgyptAir would then respond to it. The NTSB issued a report on the accident in August but was unable to conclude what caused the crash. Its 1,665-page assessment appeared to dismiss Egyptian theories that technical problems may have been behind the disaster. U.S. investigators have left little doubt that they are working on a theory that relief co-pilot Gamil al-Batouti deliberately crashed the plane, a theory Egyptian officials refuse to accept.  Egypt's pilots' federation has threatened to file a lawsuit against U.S. President Bill Clinton if U.S. investigators fail to consider all possible other causes of the accident, such as missile impact or technical failure. The federation has said it wants U.S. authorities to release radar images and to question an air traffic controller on duty at the time of the crash, as well as two pilots from Germany and Jordan said to have seen missiles while flying in the area at the time of the crash.  On Saturday, armed forces vehicles transported the remains of 20 officers who were aboard Flight 990 and took them for burial at a cemetery reserved for members of the military.  EgyptAir organized the transport of the remains of eight of the crew while the remains of five other victims were delivered to relatives for burial, the sources said. Rayan said that the remains of other Egyptian victims would arrive in three to four months' time following the completion of identification. Problems of identification are behind the delay in the return of remains as the bodies are in fragments. The remains of about another 40 Egyptian victims yet to be identified are still in the United States. The remains of 35 other Egyptian victims were returned to Cairo in October.

December 31, 2000  UPI
The head of the Church of Scotland plans to visit the two Libyans held in the Netherlands on charges of blowing up a Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie, with the loss of 270 lives, church officials said Sunday. After months of prosecution evidence, lawyers for Al Megrahi began presenting his defense in December, but the court was adjourned to Jan. 8 to allow more time for a document related to new evidence requested from the Syrian government. Defense lawyers argued that additional time was needed to get a full account of new evidence contained in a memorandum written by Mobdi Goben, a trained chemical engineer and senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command. He said the memorandum would give an "alternative explanation" for the bombing of the Boeing 747. Requesting the evidence from Syrian officials, the Scottish judges asked for a full copy of Goben's memorandum. They said the presentation of the memo at the court was crucial "in order that justice may be done in the proceedings."