sitemap Database of Events from January 2004 - December 2004

The Hull Thread

Chronology of Events From January 2004 - December 2004

(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.)


March 24, 2004  Clarke's complicity in crash cover-up – Jack Cashill
While counter-terrorism expert and man-of-the-hour Richard Clarke is in a chatty mood, someone might choose to ask him what he knows about TWA Flight 800. If no one in the media will, perhaps retired United Airline pilot Ray Lahr will get the chance to put Clarke under oath. Lahr next goes to court on April 5 in Los Angeles to advance his suit against the National Transportation Safety Board, the CIA and a reluctant Boeing for their role in creating the CIA's preposterous zoom-climb animation, the one that was used to discredit the 270 eyewitness to a likely missile attack. Clarke, you see, was involved in the creation of that animation. He has boasted about it. Clarke, in fact, was involved with TWA Flight 800 from the beginning. As designated chairman of the Coordinating Security Group on terrorism in July 1996, it was he who called the critical meeting that began about 90 minutes after the crash of TWA Flight 800 in the White House situation room. Gathered in the room that night were some 40 representatives of the agencies involved. Teleconferencing in on the room's eight monitors were terrorist experts from around the nation. Represented either in person or on screen were the Pentagon, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Secret Service, the CIA, the State Department, the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the White House. The NTSB, which should have been present, was not. The FAA made it clear that, at this point, there was no effective deterrence if terrorists were planning to take out additional planes. The attendees realized that two days before the Olympics and a month before the political conventions, a terrorist scenario had the potential to virtually shut down the airline industry and cripple the economy. President Clinton knew this all too well and dreaded it. He was squirreled away that night in the family quarters, likely with access to satellite and other data not shared in the situation room. Just four months shy of pulling off one of the great political comebacks of all time, Clinton lived in mortal fear of an incident that could throw the advantage to war hero, Bob Dole. And this was one such incident. Unlike President Bush, Clinton obviously did not share his sentiments with Clarke. Clarke called the security meeting in good faith and executed it in the same spirit. The presumption reigned during the meeting that the destruction of the plane had been a terrorist act. Years later, Clarke casually acknowledged "the widespread speculation within the CSG that [TWA 800] had been shot down by a shoulder-fired missile from the shore." Those gathered had received the heads-up from the FAA on the radar data. They were aware of reports that streaks of light had been seen in the sky heading towards the plane prior to the explosion. They knew that the plane had vanished without a word of distress from the pilots, a fact that suggested terrorism as well.  When, however, the White House let it be known the next day that all talk of missiles should go away, an obliging Richard Clarke played a role in helping the missiles do just that. The final cleansing of the likely missile attack from history came some 16 months later. What made Nov. 18, 1997, so memorable – and so controversial – was less the FBI press conference that concluded the criminal investigation than the 15-minute, CIA-produced zoom-climb animation that concluded the press conference.  As with all perceived successes, everyone wanted credit. A New Yorker profile post-Sept. 11 gave the honors to the late FBI anti-terrorism expert John O'Neill. The New Yorker's source was none other than Richard Clarke. According to Clarke, O'Neill insisted that TWA 800 was out of range of the most-likely shoulder-fired missile, the Stinger.  O'Neill believed that the "ascending flare" must have been something else, like "the ignition of leaking fuel from the aircraft" Clarke, who was clearly in the loop, played along He also credits O'Neill with persuading the CIA to create a visual recreation of the same. It is hard to know whether Clarke was complicit in the CIA plot or just plain ignorant, but neither speaks well for his credibility. "The case of TWA 800 served as a turning point because of Washington's determination and to a great extent ability to suppress terrorist explanations and 'float' mechanical failure theories," wrote Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism Yossef Bodansky in1999. "To avoid such suppression after future strikes, terrorism-sponsoring states would raise the ante so that the West cannot ignore them." On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, while terrorists prepared to raise that ante, New Yorkers went about their business, unknowing, unsuspecting and totally unprepared. For this, they can thank, among others, Richard Clarke.


April 23, 2004
Almost eight years after TWA Flight 800 was blasted out of the sky, a federal judge permitted discovery to go forward in a civil case James and Elizabeth Sanders have brought against the federal government and eight named defendants. A retired cop turned journalist, Sanders alleged that the defendants – namely certain federal officials involved in the Flight 800 investigation – perverted the system, using ordinary criminal process for the improper purpose of quelling the free speech of him and his wife, Elizabeth, the plaintiffs in the case. "Not only is the chilling of free speech of citizens not what the criminal process is designed to do," wrote federal district judge Joanna Seybert, "it is inimical to our system of laws and justice." In so declaring, Judge Seybert has, perhaps for the first time in American history, opened a federal civil court to a case that the government and its media accomplices have dismissed as a conspiracy theory. With retired United Airlines pilot Ray Lahr advancing his case against the National Transportation Safety Board and the CIA through the Los Angeles District Court, it is possible – although by no means certain – the federal courts may finally address the great untold story of our time.

In the way of background, Sanders had begun investigating the possibility that a criminal act brought down TWA Flight 800 just months after the act took place in 1996. He developed high-level sources within the investigation, who gave Sanders documents that, to this day, have not been declassified. One NTSB document given to Sanders is particularly critical. The document revealed that Federal Aviation Administration controllers had, in fact, tracked an object that approached and intersected with TWA 800 just as it exploded. According to the document, FAA technicians picked up the phone and immediately called the "White House." This FAA message went directly to terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who shortly thereafter convened a meeting in the White House situation room. As we reported last week, Clarke deceives the readers of his book "Against All Enemies about the provocation behind this meeting. In his retelling, the FAA "was at a total loss" for why the plane disappeared from its radar screens. To dismiss talk of terrorism, Clarke positions the plane's last altitude at 17,000 feet, more than 3,200 feet above the last FAA reading. Other documents leaked to Sanders showed a pattern of destruction originating on the extreme right side of the 747. The New York Times' FBI sources identified row 23, extreme right side, as the point at which an explosive event was first seen inside the passenger cabin. In his book, Clarke ignores the doubly confirmed PETN residue found in this section and claims that row 23 is where the center wing tank accidentally exploded, a fact he boasts of having discovered before the NTSB or the FBI. Needless to say, Sanders is eager to depose Mr. Clarke. Another source told Sanders the FBI had classified portions of the Navy underwater debris field video and would not let any NTSB investigator view the classified video. Sanders would soon learn the debris field was being altered to fit the exploding-fuel-tank hypothesis that the NTSB and FBI had been ordered to create. The FBI was also making sure the independent-minded NTSB investigators saw no parts that did not belong to TWA Flight 800.

In the course of his investigation, Sanders showed a key source a damage pattern across rows 17-18-19, heading toward the left side of the passenger cabin. When the source observed the pattern, he remarked that a reddish-orange residue was on the seatbacks of those rows, and only those rows. This discovery would lead to the arrest of the source ... and both James and Elizabeth Sanders. The source offered to scrape off red residue samples and give those to Sanders to have tested in a commercial lab. When the Riverside Press-Enterprise published the results of that test along with other revelations on Monday, March 10, 1997, all hell broke loose. The federal conspirators had a serious problem. The retired cop that had targeted them obviously had sources within their investigation. Those sources were still at work. For all the conspirators knew, someone sitting in on their meetings was a whistleblower. To stop the journalistic investigation into their now transparent lawlessness, they unleashed the power of the Justice Department. After the story broke, U.S. Attorney Valerie Caproni met with Sanders and his attorney and told them that Sanders would be indicted and prosecuted if he did not reveal who his sources were. Sanders refused to cooperate. Caproni then pulled out her trump card. She promised to indict Sanders' wife, Elizabeth Sanders, if Sanders did not cease his investigation and reveal his sources. When Sanders again refused to cooperate, the FBI forced Elizabeth into a soul-withering exile and out of TWA, which fired Elizabeth. On Dec. 5, 1997, the FBI obtained arrest warrants for both Sanders for conspiring with an NTSB source to have residue tested. The courts prohibited them from conducting a First Amendment defense outlining the criminal acts of those James Sanders was investigating, and both were convicted. But instead of the possible 10-year imprisonment, the judge sentenced Liz to one-year probation and 25 hours community service. James was sentenced to three years probation and 50 hours community service. Now, the Sanders civil action comes before that same judge, Joanna Seybert. In her written memorandum of March 31, 2004, Seybert acknowledges that the essence of the Sanders' complaint is the federal government prosecuted the Sanders to discourage them from disseminating views on the destruction of TWA Flight 800 "at variance with the government's official views on that subject as well as to publicly discredit [Sanders'] views." This, they allegedly did "in violation of their First Amendment rights." "In this case," wrote Seybert, "the allegations contained in the Amended Complaint are sufficient to state a claim for abuse of process." The Sanders, she added, "have satisfied their burden to withstand this motion [to dismiss] and are entitled to conduct discovery relating to this claim." Let the discovery begin.

April 26, 2004  New York Times
The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered, counterterrorism officials say. In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families' new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street. They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the "Magnificent 19" and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe. On Thursday evening, at a tennis center community hall in Slough, west of London, their leader, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammad, spoke of his adherence to Osama bin Laden. If Europe fails to heed Mr. bin Laden's offer of a truce — provided that all foreign troops are withdrawn from Iraq in three months — Muslims will no longer be restrained from attacking the Western countries that play host to them, the sheik said."All Muslims of the West will be obliged," he said, to "become his sword" in a new battle. Europeans take heed, he added, saying, "It is foolish to fight people who want death — that is what they are looking for." On working-class streets of old industrial towns like Crawley, Luton, Birmingham and Manchester, and in the Arab enclaves of Germany, France, Switzerland and other parts of Europe, intelligence officials say a fervor for militancy is intensifying and becoming more open. Hundreds of young Muslim men are answering the call of militant groups affiliated or aligned with Al Qaeda, intelligence and counterterrorism officials in the region say. On Friday, Abu Hamza, the cleric accused of tutoring Richard Reid before he tried to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner with explosives hidden in his shoe, urged a crowd of 200 outside his former Finsbury Park mosque to embrace death and the "culture of martyrdom." Though the British home secretary, David Blunkett, has sought to strip Abu Hamza of his British citizenship and deport him, the legal battle has dragged on for years while Abu Hamza keeps calling down the wrath of God. In an interview on the BBC over the weekend, Mr. Blunkett advocated a stronger deportation policy, initially focused on 12 foreign terror suspects held without charge since the Sept. 11 attacks. Despite tougher antiterrorism laws, the police, prosecutors and intelligence chiefs across Europe say they are struggling to contain the openly seditious speech of Islamic extremists, some of whom, they say, have been inciting young men to suicidal violence since the 1990's. One chapter in Sheik Omar's lectures these days is "The Psyche of Muslims for Suicide Bombing." At a mosque in Geneva, an imam recently exhorted his followers to "impose the will of Islam on the godless society of the West." "It was quite virulent," said a senior official with knowledge of the sermon. "The imam was encouraging his followers to take over the godless society."  While some clerics, like Abu Qatada — said to be the spiritual counselor of Mohamed Atta, who led the Sept. 11 hijacking team — remain in prison in Britain without charge, others like Sheik Omar, leader of a movement called Al Muhajiroun, carry on a robust ideological campaign. "There is no case against me," Sheik Omar said in an interview. Referring to calls by members of Parliament that he be deported, he added, "but they are Jewish" and "they have been calling for that for years." Among his ardent followers is Ishtiaq Alamgir, 24, who heads Al Muhajiroun in Luton and calls himself Sayful Islam, the sword of Islam. He says there are about 50 members here but exact numbers are secret. Most days, he and a handful of his followers run a recruitment stand on Dunstable Road much to the chagrin of the Muslim elders of Luton.  In Slough, Sheik Omar spent much of his time Thursday night regaling his young followers with the erotic delights of paradise — sweet kisses and the pleasures of bathing with scores of women — while he also preached the virtues of death in Islamic struggle as a ticket to paradise.  He spoke of terrorism as the new norm of cultural conflict, "the fashion of the 21st century," practiced as much by Tony Blair as by Al Qaeda. "We may be caught up in the target as the people of Manhattan were," he told them.  And he warned Western leaders, "You may kill bin Laden, but the phenomenon, you cannot kill it — you cannot destroy it." "Our Muslim brothers from abroad will come one day and conquer here and then we will live under Islam in dignity," he said.
(For further information on the ongoing problem in the United Kingdom and the links to TWA 800 see London Bridge is Falling Down)

May 21, 2004 Posted: 6:22 PM EDT (2222 GMT)  
Plane's wreckage puzzles investigators.  
Clues hint at mid-air collision with 'unknown object'

54-year-old cargo plane pilot Thomas J. Preziose -- plunged to his death the evening of October 23, 2002.  Preziose's crash, like almost all air crashes, contained elements of mystery from the start. But accident investigators will tell you that this crash is more confounding than most. Here are the most intriguing aspects: -- Investigators found red streaks -- transfer marks, they call them -- on various pieces of the shredded Cessna pulled from the muck. The red does not match red mail bags or other objects known to be on the plane.  -- Investigators also found a small piece of black anodized aluminum embedded in the skin of Preziose's plane. The aluminum is not from the accident airplane. Those facts led National Transportation Safety Board accident investigator Butch Wilson to conclude the Preziose's Cessna 208B Caravan "collided in-flight with an unknown object."   Theories abound. Some believe Night Ship 282 collided with a drug runner's plane, the loss of which might go unreported. Some wonder if Night Ship 282 was pelted by a meteor or space junk. Others think it collided with a military drone run amok, or perhaps was hit by a missile. Some even suggest the plane was struck by terrorists, perhaps aiming at a larger plane nearby. At 7:40 p.m. Preziose set off on a run. He was carrying 420 pounds of cargo for DHL, including a shipment of baseball hats.  It was dark and overcast, and there was light precipitation in the area, forcing Preziose to use his instruments. Preziose departed headed directly north, and controllers directed him to climb to 3,000 feet and turn right, towards the east. The controller also advised him that an inbound DC-10 aircraft was flying south at 4,000 feet. A minute later, the controller told Preziose that the DC-10 was two miles away at the "one o'clock" position, suggesting that the large aircraft had passed him and was slightly to his right. But a post-accident analysis of radar data suggests that that was incorrect. The plane was still to Preziose's left. Whatever the problem was, Preziose evidently saw the large plane. "Roger," he replied, "I got him above me right now." At about the time he was speaking those words, Preziose's plane began a fairly rapid, but apparently controlled, descent. In the next 14 seconds, his plane dropped from 2,900 feet to 2,400 feet. It was then that Preziose made what was to be his last radio transmission: "I needed to deviate, I needed to deviate, I needed to deviate, I needed ... "  His plane began an uncontrolled descent into the swamp. Preziose's last flight lasted about four minutes. Preziose's Cessna was shredded; its parts scattered randomly over an area of about 200 yards. Its instruments were so damaged they did not provide any useful information. The autopsy didn't provide clues, either. Tissue samples revealed no sign of alcohol or drugs. Early in the investigation, investigators noticed the red marks. The marks were on many pieces of the airframe, concentrated on the skin of the plane forward of the main landing gear on the pilot's side of the plane, but also on other places on the plane. Curiously, red marks were even found inside the nose landing gear wheel, which had been stripped of its tire. The NTSB sent two pieces of airplane skin containing red marks to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for analysis. But when the marks were compared to material from red cargo bags and a red Pitot tube covering, they were found to be "significantly different," the NTSB said. The NTSB also obtained a piece of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from the U.S. Air Force. It also did not match. Since the DC-10 -- a FedEx plane -- was in the vicinity, it became the obvious subject of suspicion. But a walk-around examination of the jet showed "no damage to the exterior of the aircraft," the NTSB report says. Radar data also indicate the planes did not collide, showing the two planes never came closer than 1,000 feet in altitude or a mile horizontally and "never crossed paths," the report reads. "There's all sorts of speculation about what's happened to that airplane," said Michael Griffin, a flight instructor who regularly flies out of Mobile Downtown Airport. "This is pure speculation on my part but this is a big drug trafficking area and it wouldn't surprise me at all (if Preziose was struck by a drug runner). He did make announcements that he needed to turn. ... He was probably panicked. He saw something that shouldn't have been there."  Or Preziose could have hit another plane "lost in the soup," he said.  Others, including Don Godwin, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Freight, the company Preziose was working for, dismiss those theories. "If there had been another airplane, I feel certain there would have been pieces of another airplane at the crash site." Godwin is captivated by the fact that the plane's engine broke in two main pieces. "That's a big deal right there to me," Godwin said. "I think most everybody is convinced that that happened prior to the impact." As for the cause? "The only thing that would come to my mind would be a high-speed drone," he says. Or maybe a missile. "I believe whatever hit it flew right through it and probably ended up in the Gulf of Mexico someplace or somewhere in that bay," he said.  Military officials at Tyndall Air Force base, about 140 miles from the marsh where the plane crashed, are convinced that drones -- which are launched from the base -- had nothing to do with the downing of Night Ship 282.  The base did not launch any drones the evening of October 23, 2002, says Lt. Col. Jerry Kerby, commander of the 82 Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall, located on the Florida panhandle. There is also speculation about the pilot's last words, "I needed to deviate."To his sister, the meaning of the words couldn't be clearer.  "Knowing Tommy, he wanted to try to make people understand that something was going on that was unusual and so [at the] last second he grabbed hold of the mic and transmitted that information."And that is why he was saying, 'I see something coming at me and I know I am going to die and I want you to know what happened to me,'"

E. Falmouth, MA (PRWEB) July 14, 2004 -- As the eight-year anniversary of the TWA 800 crash approaches, the first piece of wreckage that separated from the plane is missing. Navy divers located and recovered this piece, which left the plane at apparent supersonic speeds, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) failed to list it in their official debris field map.  The piece was recorded by multiple FAA radar sites hurling off the right side of the plane just as it exploded, but it was never mentioned in the NTSB's final report. It landed more than ¼ mile closer to JFK airport than can be explained in the official crash scenario. See for more information.  Two FOIA cases -- one on the West-coast in Los Angeles, and another on the East-coast in Springfield, MA -- are making headlines this month as they seek tightly held crash documents being withheld by US government agencies.  In Massachusetts, Graeme Sephton, President of the Freedom of Information Advocacy Coalition (FIOAC), is suing the FBI for forensic data and analyses of "foreign bodies" found during victim autopsy examinations. After winning an appeal at Boston Appeals Court last year, Sephton's case will be heard on July 22, 2004 at 2:30 PM at Springfield, MA District Court.  The case has already unearthed hundreds of documents, but none containing the forensic analyses being sought. However, one document describes an FBI policy of withholding "suspicious" physical evidence from the NTSB during the investigation. Such a policy may explain how wreckage recovered by the Navy never made it to the NTSB. See for more information.  On the West-coast, retired commercial pilot Ray Lahr is suing the NTSB to release simulation data used to explain missile sightings before the crash. According to the NTSB, witnesses who believed they saw a missile were actually watching Flight 800 climb sharply, after it exploded. Lahr's case will be heard August 2, 2004 at 10 AM at the Los Angeles Federal Court House. TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, NY on July 17, 1996. Witnesses reported seeing a streak of light rise from the ocean and collide with Flight 800 before the crash. Federal investigators dismissed the witness accounts due to an alleged absence of corroborating physical evidence, settling instead upon an electrical short circuit inside a fuel tank.

Contact Information:
Tom Stalcup, FIRO Chairman, for general TWA Flight 800 information.
E. Falmouth, MA

Graeme Sephton, FOIAC President, for information on FOIA litigation.

Friday, August 27, 2004  Stewart Bell -  National Post. News

A captured al-Qaeda operative has told Canadian intelligence investigators that a Montreal man who trained in Afghanistan alongside the 9/11 hijackers was responsible for the crash of an American Airlines flight in New York three years ago. Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents were told during five days of interviews with the source that Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen also known as Farouk the Tunisian, had downed the plane with explosives on Nov. 12, 2001. The source claimed Jdey had used his Canadian passport to board Flight 587 and "conducted a suicide mission" with a small bomb similar to the one used by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, a "Top Secret" Canadian government report says. But officials said it was unlikely Jdey was actually involved in the crash, which killed 265 people and is considered accidental. The fact that al-Qaeda attributed the crash to Jdey, however, suggests they were expecting him to attack a plane. "We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident here," said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell -- at least that's been relayed to us -- that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have, is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin." Jdey, 39, came to Canada from Tunisia in 1991 and became a citizen in 1995. Shortly after getting his Canadian passport, he left for Afghanistan and trained with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, according to the 9/11 commission in the United States. He recorded a "martyrdom" video, but was dropped from the 9/11 mission after returning to Canada in the summer of 2001. The planner of the World Trade Center attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claims Jdey was recruited for a "second wave" of suicide attacks. The FBI issued an alert seeking Jdey's whereabouts in 2002. John Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney-General, told a news conference in May that Jdey was one of seven al-Qaeda associates "sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States." The information on Jdey's alleged role in the plane crash is contained in a memo on captured Canadian al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Mansour Jabarah. The Canadian government memo was written in May, 2002, and was based on information provided by a "source of unknown reliability." Jabarah is a 22-year-old from St. Catharines who allegedly joined al-Qaeda and convinced Osama bin Laden to give him a terror assignment. He was tasked with overseeing a suicide-bombing operation in Southeast Asia, but was caught and has since pleaded guilty in the United States. The report, which was sent to the Philippine National Police intelligence directorate, recounts what Jabarah said he was told about the U.S. plane crash by Abu Abdelrahman, a Saudi al-Qaeda member who was working for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. "In discussions, Abu Abdelrahman mentioned Al Qaida was responsible for the assassination of Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader," the report says. "According to the source, Abu Abdelrahman added that the 12 November 2001 plane crash (btb American Airlines flight 587) in Queens, New York was not an accident as reported in the press but was actually an AL QAIDA operation. "Abu Abdelrahman informed Jabarah that Farouk the Tunisian conducted a suicide mission on the aeroplane using a shoe bomb of the type used by Richard Reid .... 'Farouk the Tunisian' was identified from newspaper photographs as being identical to Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen who had resided in Montreal." Jabarah was initially suspect of the claim about Jdey, but he later believed it after he saw the same information on a "mujahedin Web site," the report says.

August 30, 2004 Original article available at:
American Airlines 587 crashed soon after taking off from New York's Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 12, 2001, killing 265 people. Coming just two months after 9/11, this disaster raised a specter of renewed terrorism attacks, yet investigators quickly dismissed the possibility of foul-play.  Al-Qaeda on a website in May 2004 claimed the plane's fall as an attack - now comes a wisp of evidence to suggest that AA 587's demise was in fact not an accident but an operation carried out by Al-Qaeda. This information has a complex pedigree: It is recounted in a top secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service report written in May 2002 and made public on Aug. 27, 2004 by Stewart Bell in Canada's National Post: its source is Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, a 22-year-old from St. Catharines, Ontario, said to be of "unknown reliability."  Jabarah in turn is reporting on what he heard from Abu Abdelrahman (a Saudi Al-Qaeda member who worked for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the organization's highest ranking operatives). KSM's information has usually turned out to be reliable. So, the information that follows is not exactly rock-hard, but it is a real lead. And this is it: Abu Abdelrahman told Jabarah who told CSIS that the 12 November 2001 plane crash (btb American Airlines flight 587) in Queens, New York was not an accident as reported in the press but was actually an Al Qaida operation. Abu Abdelrahman informed Jabarah that Farouk the Tunisian conducted a suicide mission on the aeroplane using a shoe bomb of the type used by Richard Reid. "Farouk the Tunisian" was identified from newspaper photographs as being identical to Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen who had resided in Montreal." Jabarah claimed Jdey used his Canadian passport to board Flight 587 but Jdey was apparently a master of aliases (they include Abd Al-Rauf Bin Al-Habib Bin Yousef Al-Jiddi, Abderraouf Dey, A. Raouf Jdey, Abdal Ra'Of Bin Muhammed Bin Yousef Al-Jadi, Farouq Al-Tunisi, Abderraouf Ben Habib Jeday), so one really has no idea what name he might have flown under that day. Jdey, 39, had emigrated from Tunisia to Canada in 1991, becoming a citizen in 1995. Shortly thereafter, he decamped to Afghanistan where he trained with some 9/11 hijackers and recorded a "martyrdom" video that coalition forces in Afghanistan later found. He did not join the 9/11 mission but was to be part of a second wave of suicide attacks. He remains on the loose, with a worldwide alert for him. The FBI has a "seeking information" notice out for him "in connection with possible terrorist threats in the United States.

December 3, 2004
Even after the presidential election, America’s media solons and disgruntled former government officials—such as Richard Clarke—continue to get fawning coverage for every pronouncement on the basic harmlessness of Saddam’s Iraq. The thesis is clear: Saddam was a small-time monster, too weak and incompetent to harm a far-away America.  But wouldn’t it be revealing if our intelligence community actually had to answer some hard questions about Ramzi Yousef and the annihilation of TWA Flight 800—the second-greatest mass-murder in American history? The public would then hear of how Yousef worked for Saddam Hussein, and how Iraq's dictator was ultimately responsible for the murders of 230 Americans on that dark night, long before the devastation of 9/11.  On July 16, 1996, Saddam and his lackeys were gearing up for a big celebration the following day: Liberation Day, which was Iraq’s national holiday—the day the Baath Party took power exactly 35 years earlier. Saddam’s portraits around the Republic of Fear were spruced up and the anniversary date was splashed everywhere. That same day in New York City, the terrorist Ramzi Yousef was also celebrating—in his jail cell. He had a gigantic crime unfolding. Like nearly every malignant narcissist brought to trial, Yousef insisted on representing himself. He fantasized that no lawyer was as intelligent and knowledgeable about American jurisprudence as he was. The master terrorist mused that he alone knew how to get a mistrial, and he was going to get one the next day. A mistrial would force Judge Kevin Duffy to start all over, with a new jury. That could set the U.S. attorneys back months, and indeed a delay was what Yousef needed. He still had terrorists in the New York area working under him. He had a home country ready to receive him with open arms. Anything was possible, given time. After all, Abdul Rahman Yasin, Yousef's co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, had flown in from Iraq only a few months before the blast to prepare and mix the chemicals for the giant bomb and had flown back to Baghdad. Saddam wasn’t upset with Yasin for killing only six people in the blast and failing to topple one tower onto the other. On the contrary, the Iraqi president gave Yasin a house and a stipend outside Baghdad: the prodigal son had returned, as a CBS 60 Minutes news crew revealed when it traveled to Baghdad in 2002 to interview him. Far from washing his hands of Yasin, Saddam had even pressured Jordan to release Yasin when Jordan had briefly detained the bomb-mixer.

 So Ramzi Yousef knew that he had a place to go and friends in New York. Indeed, he even said as much. In an amazing admission to his fellow inmate, Gregory Scarpa Jr., on March 5, 1996, Yousef boasted that he had “four terrorists already here in the United States.” In 1996, Scarpa was a mafia hoodlum looking at serious prison time for multiple murders committed as a “soldier” in the Colombo crime family. He was angling for a “downward departure” under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure before he went to sentencing. Yousef was his ticket to a time cut. Ratting out the arch-terrorist to the feds was the only way he could avoid spending his life in the Big House.  Amazingly, Yousef came to trust Scarpa, as journalist Peter Lance revealed in his recent book, Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror. Yousef wrongly figured that Scarpa, as a Mafioso, hated America’s government and society as much as he did. In a series of FBI “302” memos obtained by Lance and published in Cover Up, Scarpa’s FBI handler recorded an astounding series of admissions by the terror mastermind about his plans and his backing. According to the March 5, 1996, FBI memo, “Yousef told Scarpa that if he wanted, Scarpa’s family could be sent to an unknown country, and people there would take care of his family, treat him like royalty with the red carpet treatment. … Yousef implied that another government was involved/assisting Yousef. Yousef told Scarpa that if he went to this country no one could touch him.”  What country was aiding Yousef’s four terrorists and was willing to put him and Scarpa up in style? The same country that harbored Yousef’s bomb-mixer Yasin and Abu Nidal and his gang, that gave a house to Abu Abbas of Achille Lauro infamy, that trained foreign terrorists on Boeing airliners at Salman Pak and gave rivers of money to al-Qaeda and its affiliates: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Yousef got to make a lot of calls from jail, even to his terrorist “uncle” Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), future chief operating officer of al-Qaeda. FBI Special Agent in charge, James Kallstrom, was initially happy about Yousef’s calls because his men would be able to listen in. He brought in Arabic translators for the listening sessions. The problem was, Yousef chose to talk in the Baluch language to “uncle” KSM and others, as Peter Lance revealed, so Kallstrom came up empty. KSM was keeping Yousef’s spirits up, possibly talking about springing him, despite the high security of Yousef’s current detention, and if that didn’t work, a trade could be arranged. Terrorists had been traded before, even by "the Great Satan." The American president, Bill Clinton, was coasting to re-election in the fall. The Republicans had nominated the old-time insider Bob Dole to run against him, and Dick Morris’ focus groups were looking positive on the head-to-head lineups. The U.S. military barracks at the Khobar Towers had just been destroyed by terrorists, but the media weren’t up in arms insisting on a messy military response against, say, Iran. Tough talk about “bringing those responsible to justice” would probably suffice. Awaiting trial in his New York cell, Yousef had plenty of time to reflect on the previous four years. What a run it had been since he left Saddam International Airport in September, 1992, proudly carrying a printed business card that read “International Terrorist.” Flying into JFK airport with fellow terrorist Ahmad Ajaj, Yousef was stopped at the immigration desk. But Ajaj was the sacrificial lamb that day: he became irate when questioned by INS agents, who searched his bags and found fake passports, bomb recipes, six bomb-making manuals, and how-to videotapes on advanced weaponry. He shouted that he was from “Sweden” of all places. Yousef, on the other hand, had been calm and collected. Although his papers were not in order, the INS supervisor quickly waved him through, no doubt distracted by the scene Ajaj was making. Yousef, as planned, immediately dived into the New York/New Jersey world of Islamic extremism, hanging out with the murderer of Rabbi Meier Kahane and plotting with the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdul al-Rahman. The sheik and his followers, according to the FBI agents who had the mosque under surveillance, always called Yousef “Rashid the Iraqi.” (Yousef’s fellow traveler, Ahmad Ajaj, was arrested and charged with a visa violation, not with being a terrorist. He served six months in jail and was released. Incredibly, Judge Reena Raggi ordered the feds to return Ajaj’s bomb recipes to him.)

After Yousef’s team detonated the World Trade Center bomb in February 1993, the “Mozart of Terror,” as author Lance dubbed him, flew to Pakistan to see uncle KSM, another Baluch ethnic who was already planning “Operation Bojinka.” (Bojinka was an insanely ambitious plan to blow up 11 commercial airliners simultaneously over the Pacific Ocean, kill the pope and poison President Clinton in a cloud of chlorine gas. It was foiled in 1995 during the last stages of planning by a chance kitchen fire in a dingy Manila apartment.) But back in 1993, while the North Tower of the Trade Center was still smoking, Yousef’s co-conspirator Ahmad Yasin “boogies to Baghdad,” in the immortal words of Clinton’s terror czar Richard Clarke. Co-conspirator Mohammed Salameh, age 26, was hoping to make it back to Saddam’s tender mercies as well, but was arrested as he showed up at the rental car office to collect his deposit on the van he rented to blow up with the bomb. For his part, Salameh’s phone records reveal him to have been the messenger to Saddam. At his trial much later, it emerged that Salameh had been calling Iraq one or two times a day between June 10 and July 9, running up enormous cell phone charges that he was unable to pay. Salameh was Palestinian; it isn’t as if he had a sick Iraqi mother to console long-distance. But his uncle, Kadri Abu Bakr, had worked in Baghdad since 1986 for a Palestinian terrorist unit funded by Saddam. So Yousef, aka Rashid the Iraqi, joined his uncle KSM to work up the Bojinka plan, with assistance from Osama bin Laden’s organization. Far from being devout Muslims, Yousef and KSM enjoyed the high life in Manila. They went to karaoke bars and strip clubs, dated dancers, and stayed in four-star hotels. They had plenty of cash: KSM took scuba diving lessons and once rented a helicopter just to fly it past the window of a girlfriend’s office in an attempt to impress her, as the L.A. Times reported in June 2002. In 1995, it was time for a “wet test” of Bojinka. Yousef needed to be sure his bombs would work correctly, so he tested one on an actual airliner filled with people. He planted a tiny Casio-watch-timed bomb with Nitro “gun cotton” chemical on a Philippine Airlines flight to Japan. As Peter Lance reports, Yousef’s bomb, unlike the Semtex bomb that brought down Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was really only a trigger that was supposed to ignite the center wing tank of the Boeing, sending the plane down in flames. Yousef put the Casio trigger too far away from the tank, however. The timer went off, killing a man and blowing a hole in the plane, but the Filipino captain heroically maneuvered to keep the jetliner stable enough to land safely. Watching the news of the crash-landing on CNN in a bar that day, Yousef figured he’d get it right the next time. He and KSM were now fixated on airliners.

 But as Operation Bojinka was exposed by an observant Manila police officer responding to Yousef’s accidental kitchen fire, Yousef was arrested, while his uncle got away and wasn’t captured until March 2003. So, as Yousef awaited trial in 1996, Bojinka’s failure was stinging Yousef’s ego. Talking to Gregory Scarpa in his cellblock at exercise time, Yousef was obsessing about airliners and blowing them up. He was calling KSM from jail and his uncle was working the problem. Yousef’s other cellmate, Abdul Hakin Murad, told Gregory Scarpa that KSM’s people were going to blow up a U.S. airliner, but that “Ramzi’s waiting to hear if Bojinka (Yousef’s new code name for Osama bin Laden) got the message.” Thirty-four days before the destruction of TWA Flight 800, Osama still needed to approve the attack first. Eleven days later, Yousef had presumably been told by KSM that Osama had blessed the operation. Yousef was also feeling better about how his trial was going, and so wanted to hold the bombing in reserve. The latest FBI 302 memo had Scarpa reporting that Yousef “was not going to perform the operation for now because the trial is going well.” But, as Peter Lance wrote, “three days after that, the mercurial Yousef told Scarpa that he thought the government want[ed] to sabotage his case.” Yousef told the court that he was going to have Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Garcia killed because he thought that Garcia had smirked at him, and Judge Kevin Duffy wasn’t amused. To make matters worse, Judge Duffy was looking as if he was going to let in the written confession of Abdul Murad, which talked about Yousef’s involvement in Operation Bojinka.

It was time to pull the trigger on America and Yousef, “Rashid the Iraqi,” was going to celebrate Saddam’s Liberation Day with a bang—and hopefully get his mistrial. Saddam was celebrating too: as Dr. Laurie Mylroie recounted, this was the day that he gave “the most angry, vengeful speech of his entire life” against America, the Great Satan—no mean feat for the Great Uncle of terror. At the time, Uncle KSM, in Doha, Qatar, was prepping the terrorist channels for the event. At noon Washington time on July 17, 1996, a fax came through at the London office of Al-Hayah, the most prestigious Arabic language newspaper. Purporting to be from the “Islamic Change Movement of Jihad,” which Dr. Laurie Mylroie describes as likely a “name given by Iraqi intelligence to threaten or claim credit for bombings,” it said:  “The mujahideen will give their harshest reply to the threats of the foolish U.S. President [Bill Clinton was again threatening Iraq over its noncompliance with UNSCOM]. Everybody will be surprised by the magnitude of the reply, the date and time of which will be determined by the mujahideen. The invaders must be prepared to leave [the Arabian peninsula], either dead or alive. Their time is at the morning-dawn. Is not the morning-dawn near?”  As the sun dawned on the Arabian peninsula, it was setting off New York harbor. At 8:31 p.m., more than 270 eyewitnesses saw streaks of light shooting toward TWA Flight 800. After a ghastly series of explosions, 230 innocent Americans careened into the Atlantic in a death plunge. The next day, as terror expert Yousef Bodansky related, the Islamic Change Movement bragged in Beirut that it had “carried out [its] promise with the plane attack of yesterday.” In Qatar, KSM was delighted.  Yousef showed up in court with his standby counsel and asked Judge Duffy for a mistrial, citing the “unfortunate confluence of circumstances” in the downing of the jetliner and its similarity to the Bojinka charges. Judge Duffy, a tough Irishman, was in no mood to do Yousef any favors. He polled the jury, first saying: “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Last night near Moriches Inlet out in Long Island, an airplane blew up. TWA Flight 800. … All we know is that there was an explosion and the airplane went down. It’s a tragedy, there is no two ways about it, but that had nothing to do with this case.” Motion denied.

Enormous credit has to be given to Jack Cashill, co-author of First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America, for his dogged detective work in uncovering the Clinton White House’s outrageous corruption of the official investigation that followed. As everyone knows, the official government position to this day is that the center wing tank of the jumbo jet mysteriously self-ignited shortly after takeoff, without any human cause. But in addition to all the hard physical evidence of a terrorist bomb or missile strike recounted in his book, including Yousef’s favorite explosive residues, RDX, PETN and Nitro on multiple seat cushions pulled from the ocean floor, Cashill’s later comment about the attack occurring on Iraq’s Liberation Day is shattering in its impact: “Were Mecca to be bombed on the 4th of July, the disinterested observer would logically conclude that either the USA was responsible or that some provocateur did it to implicate the US.” As Dr. Laurie Mylroie first established, Ramzi Yousef was Saddam’s man. Yousef, with the assistance of his New York cell, KSM and Osama bin Laden abroad, and indeed Saddam himself, wanted to salvage something from the foiled Bojinka plot. They conceived to destroy a U.S. airliner from New York to get Yousef a mistrial and time to get sprung, acquitted or traded back to Iraq. To celebrate the Great Uncle of terror finance, Saddam Hussein, they set the day for July 17, 1996: Iraq’s 35th Liberation Day. As Mylroie described in her book A Study in Revenge, Yousef was Saddam’s man; he was was not Kuwaiti; he was Baluch, from a wild area next to Iraq, where Saddam used to mine people for his wet work. We do the victims’ families no justice by telling them their loved ones died in terror because of a mysterious self-igniting fuel tank. And we ignore the fact that Saddam was part of engineering a 9/11 trial run, terrorizing the American skies in order to achieve one diabolical objective, brutal and unwarranted mass-murder.