The Hull Thread
Events from the TWA 800 Downing to December 31, 1996
July 18, 1996 NY Times
Airline security has been higher than usual ..... for several reasons..... including ....the bombings in Saudi Arabia.......... the tone of the meeting emphasized the seriousness with which the intelligence community viewed the current dangers of terrorism against airplanes .........
July 18, 1996 EmergencyNet NEWS Service Vol.
2 - 200 ENN 7/18/96 10:36CDT
Internationally, the government of South Korea quickly tightened security checks for flights to and from the United States. A police official in Seoul said, "In view of the possibility of a terrorist attack on the airliner, we have decided to strengthen security drills at the airport, particularly flights to and from the United States. Tighter security checks would continue until the end of the Olympics." In Pakistan, security at the country's main Karachi international airport was tightened. An official said that all fights, particularly coming from and leaving for New York were being checked thoroughly.
July 19, 1996 CNN Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EDT
A main investigator in the case on Friday said terrorism had not been ruled out as a cause of Wednesday night's crash of the Paris-bound Boeing 747. "We are looking at mechanical malfunction and at a criminal act," said Robert Francis, vice president of the National Transportation Safety Board. "Certainly the possibility of a criminal act is a distinct one." ... Two parallel investigations -- one looking into accidental causes and the other into possible criminal activity-- are under way. The FBI will continue its probe into the crash until the possibility of criminal activity is ruled out as a cause, said Jim Kallstrom with the agency's Anti-terrorism Task Force. "We will get to the bottom of this, whatever the bottom is," he vowed. The CIA's Counter-terrorism Center also has begun a worldwide search for any clues that terrorism may have been involved in crash. But so far, a CIA official said, "We have nothing that points us in one direction or another." There was some speculation that a surface-to-air missile, perhaps fired from a boat off the coast of Long Island, could have brought the plane down. A top Pentagon intelligence official told CNN such a possibility has been ruled out. (Note from author - See Musing #5 which disputes this statement) The reason: a stinger missile is heat-seeking, and analysts concluded it would have had to make too sharp a turn to hit the TWA flight, the source said. Also the plane was "too high," about 10,000 feet, which is at the outer edge of the range for such a missile. Counter- terrorism analysts in Washington assigned to the case also looked into several calls claiming responsibility for the crash, but all but one such claim has been ruled out. The source declined to discuss the nature of the possible threat they were still looking at. Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday two calls claiming responsibility for the crash had been received after the plane went down, but she said there are "no indications" yet of terrorism. One of the calls mentioned by Reno was received at Tampa, Florida, television station WTSP from a man who identified himself as a member of a "Jihad," a station official said. Jihad, meaning "holy war," is a word used by Islamic militant groups. The WTSP spokesman said the caller gave no name and offered no motive.
In the absence of explanations, theories abounded. One focused on a fax sent Wednesday to an Arabic language newspaper in Beirut warning of an attack. State Department and CIA officials confirmed they had received copies of the fax Thursday. The message said "tomorrow morning we will strike the Americans in a way they do not expect and it will be very surprising to them," according to one official. A counterterrorism source familiar with the fax said that it was sent at 11 a.m. New York time Wednesday, more than nine hours before the bombing. But a CIA source said that the agency "does not attach too much significance" to the fax.
The fax, witten in Arabic, ends with the following threat: "The Mujahadeen will respond harshly to the threats of the stupid American president. All will be shocked by the magnitude of the response. The determining of the place and time are in the hands of the Mujahadeen. The invaders must get ready to leave alive or dead; and their rendezvous will be morning, and isn't morning near." U.S. News and World Report magazine, in the July 29, 1996 issue, identified the group who sent the fax as, "The Movement of Islamic Jihad/The Jihad Wing of the Arabian Peninsula.".
July 19, 1996 Reuters
Attorney General Jane Reno said she was unaware of any threats before the crash but there were "some calls'' afterward claiming responsibility. ABC News reported that an Arabic newspaper received a warning of an attack on an American target Wednesday from the same group that claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed five Americans in Saudi Arabia in November. But the State Department said it had viewed the warning letter as a political tract and not as a specific threat of an extremist attack. "To us it seemed to be a general political tract. We don't see it as a specific threat,'' State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said of the letter sent to Al Hayat, an Arabic language newspaper published in London.
July 19, 1996 New York Times.
A specific warning about the flight had been sent by an extremist Saudi organization called the Movement of Islamic Change, the organization that claimed responsibility for blowing up US military personnel in Saudi Arabia last November. "Late this morning we got a copy of a letter in Arabic that we then had translated, and got it to the FBI" said a State Department spokesman ... "It's a ... statement that seems aimed at the Saudi regime or the American presence in Saudi Arabia"......... Officials said they were reviewing a telephone call placed to a Tampa, Florida television station yesterday morning from a man who identified himself as a member of a jihad and claimed responsibility for the crash.
July 19, 1996 ABC News Reports
Government sources were quoted as saying the explosion was a "deliberate criminal act", possibly an act of sabotage or the result of a hit by a "small missile". Again, quoting unnamed government sources, it was stated that infrared imagery from an orbiting satellite may have detected a missile fired at the aircraft.
July 19, 1996 CNN
A senior federal law enforcement source told CNN Friday night that FBI investigators have found residue on wreckage from the airliner that they believe could be from a bomb, but need more of the downed plane to determine if a bomb caused the crash.
July 20, 1996 London Times.
New York: Jurors at the trial here of the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Centre bombing, who is accused of plotting to attack US airliners over Asia, were told to ignore reports about the crash while considering the case against Ramzi Yousef, arrested in Pakistan last year.
July 21, 1996 New York Times.
Officials of Al Hayat, a prominent Arabic-language newspaper, said they had received faxes in London and Washington early on Wednesday, warning of a planned attack on an American target. The letter was signed by a group identifying itself as the Movement of Islamic Change, the Jihad wing.
July 21, 1996, The Jerusalem Post
French Defense Ministry experts say it is possible that the TWA Boeing 747 which exploded Thursday was accidentally hit by a missile fired by a US Army unit. According to information reaching The Jerusalem Post, the French experts believe that if reports about a surface-to-air missile hitting the plane are confirmed, the infrastructure needed to fire a missile powerful enough to hit a plane at that altitude is only possessed by army units. They ruled out the possibility that a Stinger missile could hit the plane. Such missiles were delivered by the US to Moslem guerrilla forces in Afghanistan, and later according to several intelligence reports were transferred to Moslem fundamentalist terrorist groups. According to the experts, human or technical error could have led to the TWA disaster. They noted the incident in which a US Navy plane shot down an Iranian civilian plane over the Persian Gulf a few years ago, killing some 180 passengers. The experts added that if the TWA plane was accidentally shot down by a military unit, it is unlikely that the US army will admit it. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called US President Bill Clinton on Thursday and offered Israel's help in the war against terror. However, the US government said there was still no evidence that would favor the terror theory as the cause of the TWA explosion. ..... Israeli terrorism experts are looking for possible links between Moslem militants and the explosion of TWA flight 800, the newspaper Ha'aretz said on Friday. The paper quoted an unidentified senior security source as saying Israel was helping US intelligence agencies and the FBI in every way it could in their investigation of the crash. Netanyahu's office declined comment on the report. But Israeli security sources told Reuter that Israel routinely cooperates on such matters with the US. TWA said flight 800 used to go on from Paris to Tel Aviv, but the Israel leg was discontinued in January. Israeli officials have not drawn any connection between the air disaster, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. They say they have yet to determine whether it was an accident or an attack. "We still don't know if this is an attack," Brig.- Gen. Yigal Pressler, Netanyahu's adviser on counter- terrorism, told Israel Radio. But he cited previous attempts he said involved Iran, Syria and Libya. He said some airports and airlines were not as diligent as Israelis in conducting security checks. In Paris, TWA spokesman Gilbert Dennemont ... described as "pure speculation" French media reports which said investigators were increasingly convinced the plane was the target of an attack, possibly downed by a surface-to-air missile fired from the American coast or from a ship at sea. The senior security source cited unspecified recent warnings of a possible attack on a plane
July 22, 1996 Aviation Week and Space Technology
Concerning a theory the 747 might have been brought down by a ....missile, White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry declared acidly, "There is no American official with half a brain who ought to be speculating on anything of that nature"......But a U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot, reportedly said he had seen what appeared to be the trail of a shoulder-fired SAM ending in a flash on the 747. (Note from website author: For further information on this observation see the eyewitness reports.) (McCurry) also dismissed an Arabic tract received by the U.S. government the morning after the crash ... attributed to the Movement for Islamic Change and containing an apparent warning.
July 22, 1996 CNN
According to the sources, a machine called the Egis, which is capable of picking up even minute traces of explosive residue, detected the residue on the trailing edge of one wing near the rear baggage compartment of the jet. (Horizontal stabilizer?)
July 23, 1996 The London Times
An American spy satellite positioned over the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island is said to have yielded important information about the crash. A law enforcement official told the New York Post that the satellite pictures show an object racing up to the TWA jet, passing it, then changing course and smashing into it.
July 23, 1996 The London Times
The Tel Aviv paper Yediot Ahronot disclosed yesterday that Israel had been asked by the CIA to check the Athens-New York passenger list of TWA Flight 800. The involvement of Mossad, Israel's secret service, emerged after it was made known that the Israelis warned US Intelligence before the disaster that an American aircraft would be the target of "sabotage or hijacking" by Islamic extremists. "The American intelligence agency gave Mossad the passenger list of the TWA plane from Athens to New York and asked that it check the passengers' backgrounds to reveal if one of them had connections to a terror group," reported the paper, which has closelinks to the Israeli security services. .... Earlier this month, a Mossad officer monitoring Middle East terrorist groups passed an unspecific warning to his American counterpart in TelAviv. The officer said: "The threat of sabotage or a hijacking against an American plane was analysed and considered serious enough for us to pass on to the Americans. It was then up to the Americans to assess the dangers and decide whether to pass it on to their airlines."
July 23, 1996 Newsday - Long Island
A chemical test showed traces of a rare explosive on a wing from TWA Flight 800 .......The explosive material, ... is so unusual that federal investigators have only seen traces of it once before .... A senior federal law enforcement official yesterday noted that 60 witnesses have now reported seeing something streaking up toward the plane before it was consumed by an orange fireball. ...The sources said the explosive which showed up was not one of the more common ones such as dynamite, or the plastiques, such as C-4 or semtex. But the sources refused to name it or the incident in which it had turned up previously ....."It was descending for four to five seconds before it blew up," said Mike Gilligan, an Eastport resident who was in his back yard with his sons on Wednesday evening. "The red glow, I think, was a fire. I can't say it was the fuselage or the engine. I think it was corkscrewing down. The wing would turn and occlude the fire. Then it would turn and I'd see the fire."
July 23, 1996 CNN
Earlier Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta told reporters that investigators believe they are "close to finding out what happened" in the crash of TWA Flight 800. He said some chemical residues had been found on some of the bodies and plane parts, but more testing will have to be done to determine what those residues are.
July 23, 1996 Newsday
But detection of the rare explosive, if verified, could prove a decisive point in the investigation. The sources said the explosive which showed up was not one of the more common ones such as dynamite, or the plastiques, such as C-4 or semtex. But the sources refused to name it or the incident in which it had turned up previously.
July 23, 1996 Newsday
The explosive material, which the sources did not identify by name, is so unusual that federal investigators have only seen traces of it once before, said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The divers reported pitting in the external metal portion of the section," said one senior federal official. But the official added that the pitting may merely be a sign of metal stress and, "is not necessarily related with an explosion."
July 24, 1996 The Jerusalem Post
The suspicions surrounding the crash of TWA Flight 800 in New York have led to debates on the nature of terrorism. They focus mainly on terrorism linked to Islamic fundamentalism because, unlike the IRA, the Basque ETA, or the US militia fringe, Moslem fundamentalists aspire to a global reach. They blew up an American airliner at Lockerbie, bombed the World Trade Center and, a couple of weeks ago, hit the US military complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. So is there really a coherent terrorist plan against American interests around the world? And who could organize the master plan? Last week, the London-based Arabic daily, A-Sharq Al-Awsat, published an interview with the leader of Egypt's Moslem Brotherhood movement, Mustafa Mashur. He said that the brotherhood has no international leadership controlling all its activities. At most, he said, local leaders convene from time to time to exchange views and to preserve relationships. Mashur went on to say that, after the Moslem Brotherhood leadership was expelled from Egypt, its birthplace, during Nasser's regime in the 1950s, it became scattered across the Arab world and beyond. It set about accommodating itself to native circumstances, operating in each country according to local possibilities. He said many intelligence services had tried to pinpoint a world leadership, but to no avail. Yet Cairo remains one of the brotherhood's most important centers. Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat maintains contact with this movement through its Cairo center. (But a highly placed PA source said the brotherhood's real headquarters is in Germany). Mashur's statement that the brotherhood has no worldwide super-command is probably true. At the same time it cannot be ignored that those who carried out the Dhahran attack do not lean on Iran, as often stated, but look within Saudi Arabia, to the Mujahideen, the former American-backed fighters of the Afghanistan war. They were originally recruited by the heads of the "Afghan Arabs" who viewed the war in Afghanistan as merely the opening of a general war against the Christian world (Russian or Western), or the "Crusaders" as the Moslem fundamentalists prefer to call them, to demonstrate the historical continuity of their struggle. Chief among them was the fundamentalist terrorist Usama Bin Ladun. Bin Ladun was last reported somewhere in Pakistan after being expelled from Sudan, where he found shelter after the Afghan war. A sure sign that the Dhahran attack points to these formerly Saudi-funded Mujahideen can be deduced from the tensions that quickly developed between the FBI investigators sent in to Dhahran and the Saudi authorities. The Americans got a clear message that the Saudis were concealing key information from them. The Mujahideen believe they toppled the Soviet Union and that they can do the same to the equally "Crusader" US. Bin Ladun was most probably connected with the World Trade Center attack in 1993 those convicted by the American courts were his colleagues from the time of the Afghan war. One of those Mujahideen, the notorious Ramzi Yousef, a Pakistani with Palestinian roots, revealed after his capture in Pakistan that his motives were mostly Palestinian nationalist. He wanted the US to pay for the support it extends to Israel. Whatever the motives, or declared excuses, there is now a new kind of global terrorism, which ironically the US and Saudis helped fund, train and motivate in Afghanistan, and which is now coming back to haunt its former paymasters. Today it is privately financed by shadowy millionaires much like the villains in the James Bond stories.
July 27, 1996 Los Angeles Times
Government investigators, poring over information from air traffic control radar and the recently recovered aircraft ''black boxes,'' moved much closer Friday to concluding that a bomb is the only explanation for the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800. Although the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI continued to refuse to say the crash was caused by an explosive device, a leading investigator said the evidence collected so far is consistent with a bomb and with no other explanation. .... The investigator said information from radar and the airplane's two black boxes indicates the plane lost electric power and began an abrupt descent about 41 seconds before it was engulfed in a fireball. He said it appears that an initial explosion shattered the plane's mechanical equipment and ruptured its fuel tanks, although the fire did not start immediately because it took time for the fuel to mix with enough air to cause it to ignite. .... The investigator said .... the position of two distinct underwater debris fields indicates that something blasted through the right side of the aircraft before the rest of the wreckage fell into the sea. .... Primary radar showed the plane continued at about 400 miles per hour for ... 41 seconds then disappeared from the screen, engulfed in the fireball. Much of the wreckage debris is spread in the same direction as the plane had been flying, the expected pattern caused by the plane's momentum. But the investigator said there is a smaller debris field located to the right of the plane's track and behind the position recorded by the final radar image. He said this could have resulted only if something had been blown out of the plane at about the time the black boxes and transponder cut out. The investigator said specialists know of no kind of mechanical failure that would produce such a debris pattern. ... The investigator said the information gained from the black boxes and radar is remarkably consistent with eyewitness accounts, especially with the version told by nine pilots who were in the air at the time. At the news briefing, James Kallstrom, the FBI's top official on the case, said his agents had interviewed a number of witnesses who recalled seeing something in the air ''ascending'' toward the aircraft, possibly the track of a ground-to-air missile.
July 27, 1996 11 Raby` al-awal 1417 A.H.
11 Av 5756
Olympic Park Bombing
July 29, 1996 Aviation Week & Space Technology
Experts on terrorism believe a shoulder fired SAM is an unlikely weapon since the shards from a blast could be readily identified and subsequently traced .....
July 29, 1996 Electronic Telegraph
Federal investigators believe the initial blast destroyed the cockpit and first-class section .... .... Shrapnel injuries have been found on the bodies of some first-class passengers and analysis of radar readings shows that, after the initial explosion, most of the Boeing 747 flew on under power for between 10 and 12 seconds.
July 31, 1996 Reuters
Samples of apparent residue found on the landing gear have been sent to a Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Washington to find if they hold chemical traces of an explosive.
August 1, 1996 CNN
FBI chief (says) U.S. 'under attack' by terrorists. In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Freeh pointed to a series of arrests and convictions since four Islamic fundamentalists were found guilty in the February 1993 bombing that killed six people ...at New York's World Trade Center. He referred to two fatal bombings in Saudi Arabia ..... and the still unexplained crash of TWA Flight 800.
August 1, 1996 CNN
At the daily news briefing held by the NTSB and FBI, investigators were asked Wednesday why they have yet to find chemical or explosive residue on wreckage or victims' bodies. "I haven't said I haven't found it. I just haven't commented on it," responded FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom.
August 3, 1996 EmergencyNet NEWS Service Daily Report Vol.
2 - 216
The USA Today reported on Friday that classified U.S. intelligence documents indicate that ....Iran has a network of eleven camps to train terrorists. It is believed, according to the documents, that the bombers who conducted the attacks on the U.S. military sites in Saudi Arabia in November of 1995 and on 25 June 1996 were trained at these Iranian terror camps....Two organizations known as the Organization of Islamic Revolution and the Hezbollah of Hejaz are said to have received bomb training at the Imam Ali camp. ...According to the documents, Iranian president Hasemi Rafsanjani set up the camps two years ago. The instructors in the camps are from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and intelligence service. All of the terrorist attacks are said to be approved by Iran's Supreme Council.....Three or four sources have been telling ENN of a "terrorist summit" that has recently taken place in Teheran. Israeli intelligence sources have said that attacks "to be directed primarily against U.S. targets." were discussed at the meeting.....An official international terrorist organization, represented by Iran, Libya and Syria, was said to have been formed. It is to be called the "Movement for Islamic Change." Other members are said to be from the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Later in the day on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry warned that "strong action" will be taken against any nation that is linked to the bombing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. In an interview, Perry said that Great Britain and France have already been briefed "in general terms" about U.S. plans. The Secretary was asked if that there may be a connection to Iran and he replied, "Possibly ... we know that Iran is very active in international terrorism, some of it linked against the United States. It's no secret, they have announced that themselves. The Saudis, I think, are close to completing their investigation on that case and will be announcing that soon. I anticipate that we will find, when they announce it ... there will be an international connection, yes." The SecDef said that he, himself, has not yet come to a final conclusion about who was responsible for the bombing attack on 25 June 1996, but he called Iran "the leading candidate" for international terrorism that is directed against the United States. He said, "If we have compelling evidence of international sponsorship of that bombing, we will take strong action."....According to the Defense Secretary, the U.S. is watching several different groups in the Gulf region very closely, including militant groups in the Saudi kingdom. He said, "There is direct evidence that some of these groups are internationally supported. They have support in training, in the funding, in providing materials to them, maybe even in planning and directing their operations." ERRI analysts are saying that recent activities in Washington are ringing "alarm bells", in several quarters throughout the world.
August 5 1996 International News The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic Edition)
Iran has embarked on the most far-reaching campaign of state-sponsored terrorism ever conducted against the United States, threatening US airliners, public buildings with a wave of destructive attacks. US officials are convinced that the clerical regime in Teheran has made a strategic decision to escalate its permanent war against the "Great Satan", striking US targets on American soil for the first time in a systematic way. Although it is too early to conclude that the crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of New York was caused by sabotage, the view in Washington is that it was almost certainly a bomb. Coming just weeks after the Iranian-backed bombing of the US barracks in Dhahran, which killed 19 American servicemen, it is now widely suspected that the TWA tragedy is part of Iran's ugly new campaign. "This is just the beginning," said Kenneth Timmerman, publisher of the Iran Brief in Washington. "More aircraft are going to fall out of the sky." ..... "For 10 years, the attacks against Americans always took place outside the US - either in Europe or in the Middle East. Now it's moving here," said Daniel Pipes, author of a book on the Iranian terror machine. He argued that the mullahs were enraged when the speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, threw down the gauntlet last December, after calling Iran "a permanent, long-term threat to civilised life on this planet". Gingrich pushed through legislation forcing the CIA to spend $20 million on a covert operation targeting the Iranian government. Teheran retaliated immediately, announcing that it would match the funding dollar for dollar with its own undercover operation against Washington. ... Alarmed by the regime's fast-track programme to build nuclear weapons, the Clinton administration imposed a ban in May 1995 on all US trade with Iran. Since then, it has been in a bidding war with Republicans in Congress, who have been pushing increasingly tougher measures.Little by little, the noose has been tightened. In June this year, Washington imposed a "secondary boycott": French, German, or other companies that do business with Iran will now be banned from the US. US intelligence sources believe that Iran's president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, made his strategic decision at the beginning of this year to strike on American soil. It was driven in part by changes in the domestic politics of Iran, notably the rise of Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati, leader of a "Brown Shirt"-style street militia, who has been demanding all-out war against the US. It may also have been prompted by a perception that the Clinton administration, for all its tough talk, lacked the will to deploy strong military force.......Bill Clinton has already burned his fingers once by allowing Iran to gain a foothold in Bosnia, a costly lesson that has been well-studied at the White House. Henceforth, US policy will consist of bombs, bombs, and more bombs, all delivered from a safe distance.
August 5 1996 Electronic Telegraph Issue
The Clinton administration is drawing up detailed plans for military strikes against Iran to punish the Islamic regime for backing terrorist attacks against US targets. .... William Perry, US Secretary of Defence, has already briefed the British and French governments "in general terms" about a plan of attack - expected to be a missile and bombing strike on carefully selected targets. But hawks in Washington, eager to seize the opportunity for a crippling blow to Iran's growing military power, are pushing for a Pearl Harbour-style attack to annihilate the entire Iranian navy and the nuclear weapons programme of the outcast regime. Newt Gingrich, the House Speaker, called it "intolerable" that America could only wait while up to 5,000 terrorists were being trained for attacks on Americans. "We have every right as a nation to defend ourselves by saying to the Iranian government either you close those camps down or we will," Mr Gingrich said. "We do know that international terrorism is almost entirely subsidised by Iran, and that means that Iran is engaged surreptitiously in acts of war against the United States." Mr Gingrich spoke as if offering Mr Clinton the support of the opposition, but his comments could also be read as a challenge. If evidence mounts of Iran's sponsorship of international terrorism, and especially in regard to the TWA Flight 800 crash, Mr Clinton could find himself forced to act by the weight of public opinion. Mr Perry said that the detonator and type of explosive used to bomb a US barracks in Saudi Arabia last month were from military stocks, which suggested a foreign government's involvement. It was well known that Iran was at the forefront of attacks on American interests, he said, and promised "strong action" if Teheran is found to be behind the bombing which killed 19 American servicemen. However, he played down the likelihood of an imminent military US operation against Iran..The severity of an attack on Iran could depend on the outcome of the investigation into TWA Flight 800 .... FBI agents say they are actively looking to see if there is a link between the Saudi bomb and the mid-air destruction of the TWA aircraft. If sabotage is confirmed, the crash would be the most deadly act of terrorism ever committed in the US. Any shred of evidence that indicated an Iranian role in the disaster would elicit a ferocious response from the American military machine. Mr Perry has already announced that Iran is the "leading candidate" for the recent wave of terrorist acts against US targets. He said he would elaborate once he received the Saudi government's report - to be completed later this week - outlining foreign sponsorship of the Iran-backed terrorist groups operating in the kingdom. Iran's official news agency accused the US of trumping up terrorism charges to justify an attack. Iran's permanent mission at the United Nations accused Washington of trying "to make political gain" from the fate of Flight 800. "Our power comes neither from training terrorists nor supporting terrorism, but from our unshakeable commitment to fight [US] domination," the statement said. There are no doves in Washington when it comes to Iran. Both Democrats and Republicans are agreed that devastating action is needed.
August 5 1996 The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic
Edition) Issue 442
There will be no shortage of targets if the United States goes ahead with its plans to retaliate against Iran for continuing to support international terrorist organisations. .... the Iranians ... provide practical and financial support to two dissident Saudi groups - the Organisation of Islamic Revolution and Hizbollah of the Hejaz. Both groups - linked to Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, the Afghan veteran who has threatened to wage an international terrorist war against the US - have been linked to June's lorry bomb against the American military base at Dhahran. Members of the two groups have been trained at the Imam Ali camp on Teheran's outskirts, one of the ayatollahs' main terrorist-training bases.
August 9, 1996 The Seattle Times.
According to a report in Newsday, the theory that a missile downed the jet .... remains alive because investigators have chronicled an "unusual" amount of radar use among slow-moving ships along the coast for several days before the crash, and have interviewed credible witnesses who say they saw a fiery streak head toward the aircraft before it plummeted in flames.
August 12, 1996 TIME Magazine
A well-placed U.S. intelligence source has told TIME that calls and transmissions tracked by the CIA out of Tehran "have raised suspicions" that there is an Iranian connection to the crash. The CIA is also looking at intelligence on a meeting of terrorist leaders in Iran the month before the crash to see if any green light was given for the attack. "There is a hard look being taken at the Iran possibility," says a senior U.S. intelligence official. However, he adds. the intelligence gathered so far is "vague, nothing solid." Even so, he says, it is "tantalizing". the Iranian links to terrorism were further highlighted last week when Defense Secretary William Perry, in a National Public Radio interview, hinted that an ongoing Saudi investigation of the June 25 bombing of a U.S. military complex in Dhahran may "possibly" point to Iran's involvement. He suggested that the U.S. might have to consider "strong action".
August 13, 1996 CNN
The FBI forensic lab in Washington has found chemical explosives residue inside the passenger cabin of TWA Flight 800, sources told CNN Friday. Investigators told CNN the chemical PETN was found on the right side of the forward passenger cabin between rows 15 and 25. The PETN residue suggests that the explosives plastique or detcord, or possibly even a missile, were involved in the crash, the sources said.
August 14, 1996 NY Times
During the last two days ... investigators discovered that some pieces of the fuel tank were charred or covered with soot from a fire, while other pieces showed little or no significant damage, suggesting the tank did not explode. One official said recovered parts of the fuel tank are in "pristine condition."
August 19, 1996 Aviation Week & Space Technology
The debris exhibits a confusing, and sometimes, apparently contradictory array of damage. Sections that show extensive fire damage and crushing are adjacent to ones that show no fire damage or distortion. Metal on one side of a fracture has been found that has heavy fire damage, while the mating piece of the fracture is clean. ... Based on radar data from the flight, investigators believe that debris blew out of the right side of the 747 at 13,700 ft., before the aircraft began falling to the sea.
August 23, 1996 Jane's Defence Weekly
Israel believes that Hezbollah guerrillas in south Lebanon have amassed a stock of 1,000 unguided rockets, mostly from Iran. Thirty are said to be for a new 240 mm system, able to reach 40 km and hit Israeli coastal cities.
August 23, 1996 NY Times
Stinger missiles from Afghanistan might have made their way into the U.S. was a long-standing assumption within law enforcement circles. The presence on the crash scene of officials with the National Security Agency and the Defense intelligence Agency reinforced in some minds that there might have been some intercepted intelligence regarding a missile attack.... Mr. Kallstrom ordered his agents to research the Mistral, a French-made missile that could be launched from a tripod and that would have had the range capability.
August 23, 1996 NY Times
Chemists at the FBI crime laboratory ...have found traces of PETN ...between rows 17 and 27 .... senior investigators said... that they are not ready to declare that the crash was the result of a criminal act until they can say for sure whether the explosion was caused by a bomb or a missile ... Five days after the crash, a chemical test indicated a trace of PETN on ...the right wing where it met the fuselage.... By saying that the FBI will not .. declare that the plane was brought down by a criminal act until they have enough evidence to present a strong legal case, investigators are raising an evidentiary threshold that could take ... months to meet.
August 23, 1996 CNN Web posted at: 7:45 p.m. EDT
Minute traces of an explosive substance "of unknown origin" were found on wreckage from TWA Flight 800, but investigators have no evidence to prove a bomb caused the jet to crash, the top FBI investigator said Friday.
August 23, 1996 NEWSDAY
D.C. Lab Tests Suggest: Explosive Residue FBI chemists have found possible traces of a plastic explosive on a small piece of wreckage from TWA 800, a senior federal law enforcement source said yesterday. The discovery, made by workers at the FBI laboratory in Washington, came from debris in the Boeing 747's passenger cabin, in the area where the two wings join the fuselage, the source said.
August 24, 1996 CNN Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EDT
If explosive residue on wreckage from TWA Flight 800 is not enough to prove sabotage, then what is? To make such a determination, the FBI says it needs to see physical signs of bomb-type damage amid the wreckage of the plane,"You will have marks on the metal that show stress and impingement of small explosive fragments. A pitting or 'cratering' effect can sometimes be seen." That's what the FBI is looking for now. Asked if any evidence of pitting had been found, FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom said, "I'm not going to answer that, which neither confirms nor denies that we have."
August 24, 1996 NEWSDAY
The chemical tests have been confirmed by "another laboratory of great reputation" outside the federal government, Kallstrom said, and he added that the chances of a false positive result -- like the one that found PETN in a field test on Long Island less than a week after the crash -- are "slim to none.'"
August 25, 1996 Times of London
U.S. officials are investigating reports that Islamic terrorists have smuggled Stinger ground-to-air missiles into the United States from Pakistan. Senior Iranian sources close to the fundamentalist regime in Tehran claimed this weekend that TWA flight 800 was shot down last month by one of three shoulder-fired Stingers of the type used by Islamic guerrillas during the Afghanistan war. The sources said the missiles arrived in America seven months ago after being shipped from Karachi via Rotterdam and on to the Canadian port of Halifax. They claimed an Egyptian fundamentalist group backed by Iran was responsible for smuggling the weapons across the Canadian border into the United States. The group, the Gama'a al-Islamiya, comprises followers of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric jailed in the United States over the 1993 New York World Trade Center bombing. A senior White House official responsible for counter-terrorism told The Sunday Times this weekend that he had seen a report that a Stinger missile had been smuggled into the United States from Pakistan. The official, who is involved in collating intelligence relating to the TWA inquiry for the White House, said investigators were aware of reports that Stingers may have been smuggled into the country.... If a Stinger was the cause of this, our first theory would be that it came from Afghanistan." The official was commenting on reports from Tehran that claimed several groups funded by the religious authorities in Iran are active in the United States. The reports claim one previously unknown underground group called Falakh may have as many as 50 highly trained terrorists in the country.
August 26, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic
Edition) Issue 460
FBI agents are ...re-examining evidence from a New York trial that reveals in chilling detail how Islamic militants have perfected sophisticated techniques for bombing civilian airliners. Three Muslim fundamentalists are on trial for an audacious plan to destroy 12 American-owned Boeing 747s in a series of attacks in the Far East during just two days in January 1995. Had the plan succeeded, as many as 4,000 passengers would have perished in the most sustained assault to have been carried out against civilian aircraft in peacetime...... The alleged mastermind of the plan was Ramzi Yousef......the alleged brain behind the New York World Trade Centre bombing..... the detail emerging about what caused the destruction of TWA 800 bears an uncanny resemblance to the techniques it is claimed Yousef ... planned to use in ... bombing blitz of American 747s flying out of airports in the Far East. A stable form of liquid nitroglycerine was carried in a bottle labelled as contact-lens solution and not detectable by airport X-ray machines......To make sure their plan worked, the bombers are said to have carried out a "dry run" on a Philippines Airlines flight when a Japanese businessmen had the bottom half of his body blown away ......few will be surprised if the culprits are somehow linked to the evidence that has been produced at Yousef's New York trial.
August 26, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic
Edition) Issue 460
FBI looks to Muslim trial for TWA bomb clue....traces of nitroglycerine, in addition to .. a chemical used in plastic explosive, have been detected on wreckage from TWA Flight 800. .... the discovery of the nitroglycerine .... is also baffling investigators. "The amazing thing is that nitroglycerine is water soluble, so to get a positive test result from a piece of wreckage that was under water, is kind of amazing," one of the investigators said yesterday. "Right now, we aren't sure what to think." .... Officially, the FBI is refusing to comment on ... reports that nitroglycerine had been discovered. But it did confirm ... that traces of.... PETN (penta-erythritol tetranitrate), had been found .... Nitroglycerin ..... has been used before in a terrorist attack on a Boeing 747. PETN, often used with other explosives and chemicals to make it malleable, was used in the Lockerbie bomb and has been found in at least two other explosive devices on American aircraft.
August 29, 1996 14 Raby` al-THaany 1417 A.H.
14 Elul 5756
Reported in the NY Times on September 9, 1996
The pilot of an American Airlines jet reports that he saw a missile off the wing of his 757 plane while he was traveling from San Juan to Boston. The plane was over Wallops Island, VA. According to the NTSB's report on the near-miss, "the missile was a Black Brant V missile, with an inert payload and was launched ... in support of the Department of Defense."
August 30, 1996 NY Times
Federal investigators have created a ...computer simulation of the final moments of TWA 800 showing that almost everything ...first... blown... from the airplane came from... the right side of the jet, above and ahead of the wing. ... The... traces of ..PETN ... were also discovered in this general area. ..... An aviation expert and a law enforcement official who is an explosives specialist both said they saw several fist-size holes that had been punched through the backs of two seats on the far right side of row 23. The holes in the sheet metal on the seat back are pushed through from the rear .... and row 24, the seats just behind them is missing ..... traces of ...PETN ... were also found in this general area.
August 30, 1996 CNN
Law enforcement sources said the earlier trace evidence was residue from PETN, a chemical ingredient of plastique or plastic explosives. Those traces of PETN were found between rows 15 and 25 on the right side of the passenger cabin. FBI and National Transportation Safety Board investigators said in a joint statement Friday: "Based on all of the scientific and forensic evidence analyzed to date, we still cannot conclude that TWA Flight 800 crashed as the result of an explosive device." They said evidence of "physical damage or patterns characteristic of a detonation" still must be found before they can say with certainty that a bomb or missile brought down the Boeing 747 bound from New York to Paris.
August 30, 1996 CNN Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Additional traces of explosive residue have been found in the wreckage of TWA Flight 800, federal investigators said Friday, but that does not prove the July 17 crash was caused by a bomb. A source close to the investigation told CNN the residue came from the same explosive detected in laboratory tests on microscopic evidence last week, but was found in a different part of the plane, making it difficult to draw a pattern. The source didn't say where the recent residue was detected. A source close to the investigation told CNN the residue came from the same explosive detected in laboratory tests on microscopic evidence last week, but was found in a different part of the plane, making it difficult to draw a pattern. The source didn't say where the recent residue was detected.
August 30, 1996 CNN
Two sources close to the probe told CNN it was RDX. RDX and PETN - traces of the latter were found on TWA debris earlier this month --combine to make Semtex, the explosive used in the Pan Am crash in 1988 that killed 270 people. That crash was blamed on terrorists. FBI scientists found the trace of PETN on a section of flooring from the center of the TWA Boeing 747 jetliner. According to one source, the RDX was found on a curtain used in the cargo compartment of the jumbo jet. This source said the curtain was thought to have come from a cargo hold at the rear of the plane. (Note from website author: There is substantial evidence that two missiles brought down the aircraft. One of the missiles exploded/struck the rear of the plane. The findings of RDX and PETN in different parts of the plane also fits the two missile explanation. See for example Two Projectiles and Report to the Subcommittee on Aviation on the Crash of TWA Flight 800 )
September 4, 1996 CNN
The source said RDX was found on a curtain that would have been near row 40 in the passenger cabin, an area located behind the wings. The PETN found earlier was on a piece of the flooring in the mid-section of the plane, on the right side between rows 17 and 27 which begin just ahead of the front edge of the wings.
September 15, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K.
Electronic Edition) Issue 480
According to Dr Mylroie, the attempt to blow up the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on February 26, 1993 .... was an act of Iraqi state-sponsored terrorism conducted by proxies. After studying the telephone records and document archives from the trial, she has concluded that the mastermind said to be behind the bombing, a shadowy figure called Ramsi Yousef, was working for Iraqi intelligence. The Justice Department did not address this issue in the official investigation. It concluded that the bombing was the work of Islamic fundamentalists loyal to a blind Egyptian cleric. Jim Fox, then head of the New York FBI office, suspected Iraqi involvement but says that the Washington headquarters refused to look at the evidence. Increasingly, the question being asked in Washington every time a bomb goes off is which of the pariah states is guilty - Iran or Iraq? Ramsi Yousef was recently convicted for plotting to blow up 12 US jumbo jets in a single day in the Far East. The presumption that he was a religious militant does not bear scrutiny. Yousef had a Filipino girlfriend and was known to frequent nightclubs when he was living in Manila. It is also inconceivable that he was working for the Shiite regime in Iran. Yousef is a Pakistani Baluch of Sunni background, an anti-Iranian ethnic group that is frequently used by the Iraqi intelligence services for covert operations. It suggests that the Clinton administration is at last beginning to treat terrorist attacks as potential acts of warfare, carried out by enemy powers, that must be traced to their source, rather than as criminal acts that can be left to prosecutors. Increasingly, the question being asked in Washington every time a bomb goes off is which of the pariah states is guilty - Iran or Iraq? And when will it strike next?
September 20, 1996 CNN
As part of a training exercise, law enforcement authorities carried packaged explosives aboard the TWA Boeing 747 that burst into flames off Long Island two months ago, the FBI confirmed Friday. Several packages of explosives were used to train bomb-sniffing dogs in St. Louis six weeks before the July 17 crash of TWA Flight 800; all the materials were removed after the training session, agents said. Investigators, who requested anonymity, insisted to CNN that the training exercise had nothing to do with the explosion.
September 22, 1996 The New York Post
More than 150 credible witnesses - including several scientists and business executives - have told the FBI and military experts they saw a missile destroy TWA 800. "Some of these people are extremely, extremely credible," a top federal official said. "When we asked what they saw and where they saw it, the witnesses out east pointed to the west, and the people to the west pointed to the east, " ...FBI technicians mapped the various paths - points in the sky where the witnesses said they saw the rising "flare-like" object - and determined that the triangulated convergence point was virtually where the jumbo jet initially exploded. Struck by the number and confidence of the witnesses, the FBI sat down many of the witnesses with U.S. military experts, who debriefed them and independently confirmed for the FBI that their descriptions matched surface-to-air missile attacks. "The military experts told us that what the witnesses were describing was consistent with a missile," a federal official acknowledged. "They told us, 'You know what they are describing is a missile' "... Investigators are reviewing an anonymous threat received after the October 1, 1995 conviction of radical sheik Omar Abdel Rahman .... the threat was that a New York airport or jetliner would be attacked in retaliation ........
September 23, 1996 Aviation Week and Space Technology
Investigators are puzzled by the damage just aft of the second main-cabin doors and forward of the wing leading edges. The structure and skin here was blown away in small pieces almost entirely around the circumference of the fuselage..... That debris and cabin contents from that area were found .... in the debris area closest to JFK airport ... and is believed to contain debris that came off the aircraft first.
September 23, 1996 Associated Press
Investigators reconstructing the debris say there is a hole going into the plane and a hole going out of the plane .... a source...said on condition of anonymity ..."There's metal bent in, metal bent out. Metal you can't tell. I see a hole going in and a hole going out ....."
October 7, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K.
Electronic Edition) Issue 502
Bombers fail to undermine the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia is waiting for its next bomb. Platoons of heavily armed soldiers ring the royal palaces in the capital, Riyadh; security guards cruise its opulent shopping centres, and the 5,000 American servicemen who are the focus of the terrorists' wrath are moving to a new impenetrable compound in the heart of the desert. ... From his exile in Afghanistan, the government's most feared enemy ... Osama bin Laden, has declared jihad, or holy war, against the foreign presence. Quietly, embassies and barracks are tightening security......Pessimists draw close parallels between Saudi Arabia and its neighbour Iran, where the Western-supported Shah was overthrown in 1979 by a broad-based Islamic revolution ......
October 8, 1996 The New York Times
For several weeks, some investigators pursuing the theory that a missile brought down the plane were intrigued by a persistent pile of unidentified metal shards, and thought they might be missile parts. But experts who began examining these pieces ...said they had not found any that appeared to come from a missile.
October 13, 1996 EmergencyNet News Special Report
According to the independent SNS news service and several other Mid-East sources, Israeli security officials have announced that intelligence information that they have gathered points to an increased likelihood of planned attacks against Israeli targets in coming days. According to intelligence officials there, Hamas and other Islamic extremist affiliated terrorists in the US, and elsewhere, have been distributing information about threats and potential attacks, via the internet. At the same time, similar news of US targets being threatened have reached ENN from the US, the Middle East, and UK sources. These threats have come from Hamas, Hizbullah, the radical Islamist Hizb al-Tahrir (Liberation Party) in Jordan, and the anti-Saudi/US groups: Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights and "Legion of the martyr Abdullah al-Huzaifi," from both outside and inside of Saudi Arabia...... ERRI analysts are urging caution and special alertness during the period from now until the U.S. elections in November.
October 19, 1996 The New York Times
...about 20 percent of the tank's exterior is still missing, including about 5 percent of its top and bottom. The missing section of the tank's top is located in the upper right corner, near where the plane split in two .... the gap on the bottom is also located on the right side of the aircraft, slightly behind the hole in the top of the tank...
October 27, 1996 Electronic Telegraph Issue
Tens of thousands of supporters of Islamic fundamentalist parties will attempt to storm Pakistan's parliament in Islamabad today to demand the resignation of the prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and her government. As hundreds of mullahs were arrested across the country before the rally, paramilitary troops and police have been deployed across the capital to prevent the protesters from even reaching Islamabad's outskirts....... Last week, when the prime minister rose in the National Assembly to defend herself, her face was drawn and exhausted. But her words were defiant. "I will not resign under any pressure. I pledge with the people of Pakistan that their sister along with her colleagues will confront the conspiracies," she said ...... Ms Bhutto has been saved only by the opposition's inability to unite, even though all parties demand her resignation. Saturday's strike was led by the 14-party secular opposition alliance led by the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Today's rally has been organized by the Jamaat-e-Ialami and other Islamic parties.
November 3, 1996 The Electronic Telegraph.
A race between terrorists and the Western powers for control of a huge cache of missiles is underway in the arms bazaars of Afghanistan. The hunt, that has pitched the resources of intelligence services against terrorist groups and pariah states, is for an arsenal of shoulder-launched Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The weapons were sent into Afghanistan by the CIA during the Soviet occupation and were a key factor in tipping the balance of firepower against the Red Army. Now the West fears that, if they fall into the wrong hands, the Stingers could turn the tables in future conflicts or prove devastating if used by terror groups against civilian aviation. ..... The CIA has spent more than £70 million in a belated and often bungled operation to buy back the missiles. As a result, the weapons are fetching up to £200,000 each on the Afghan black market - 10 times their official "retail" price - and have proved lucrative investments for their current owners, a mixture of warlords, black marketeers and drug barons. .... There is evidence that Afghan military commanders have been only too eager to sell them to embassies in Kabul such as the North Koreans' and the Iranians'. The two pariah states are believed to have bought 40. .... "The Stinger is a status symbol weapon and would be a significant weapon for any terrorist group," said Damon Bristow of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies. "With little training it can bring down any aircraft. The CIA has botched its shopping trip in Afghanistan." When the CIA first sent covert shipments of missiles to Afghanistan through Pakistan in June 1986, it kept a check of their serial numbers and distribution. But at least 1,000 had been sent by April 1988 and the Americans now admit to having no idea what became of most of them. ..... "The Stingers do need to be maintained, and would need battery packs and trigger mechanisms checked," said Tony Cullen, editor of Jane's Land Based Air Defence. "But if they have been kept properly the weapons will still function. They were designed to be portable and withstand rough treatment. Their other attraction is that they are simple to use. You aim and fire. " "The Israelis found Stingers held by Hizbollah, American Special Forces found the wreckage of some in Iranian patrol boats destroyed in helicopter attacks in the Gulf war and the Tamils have used them in the Sri Lankan civil war." The FBI is still unsure whether a heat-seeking missile might have brought down TWA flight 800, the civilian airliner that crashed earlier this year in the sea near New York.
November 6, 1996 Jane's Defence Weekly
Iran has developed a 240 mm artillery rocket with a range of over 40 km. Allegedly supplied to Hezbollah, FADJR-3 has the same calibre, range and warhead weight as three known North Korean systems.
November 9, 1996 St. Louis Post Dispatch
Some TWA Pilots....who would not identify themselves, say investigators and Pentagon sources have told them recovered wreckage backs the idea that the Navy is responsible. Despite firm denials from federal officials, some TWA pilots say they are convinced that Navy gunners accidentally shot down TWA Flight 800. The pilots, who refused to reveal their names for fear of reprisal, on Friday said members of the crash investigation committee and sources in the Pentagon had told them that undisclosed recovered wreckage supported the Navy missile theory. One TWA pilot said he had flown Flight 800 from New York to Paris on July 16 and since the explosion had worked to gather information about the explosion from friends within the investigation committee. The TWA veteran of almost 20 years said a source on the committee had told him investigators had found a hole in the center of the aircraft they believed was caused by a missile. .... Another TWA pilot of eight years said he had heard strong hints from "high level sources in the Pentagon" that a missile was accidentally fired at the airplane. The area in which Flight 800 exploded was a known military testing area, three pilots said. "At least nine out of 10 pilots will tell you they believe this was a missile," said a TWA pilot of three years. "We know of military practices where they will lock (missile systems) onto commercial aircraft for testing, but then do not detonate the missile." ...... Federal officials on Friday unconditionally rejected public relations executive Pierre Salinger's allegations that "friendly fire" destroyed TWA Flight 800. Most of the TWA pilots interviewed Friday said Salinger's announcement only reinforced a belief they had held since military personnel in New York reported what they believed to be a missile at the time of the crash. Many said they believed people who had information concerning the explosion, including those who reported seeing a missile, had been pressured to remain silent.
November 10, 1996 The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic
Edition) Issue 536
US base placed on alert over Islamic bomb threat. American troops and diplomats based in Saudi Arabia have this weekend been placed on high security alert following intelligence reports that Islamic militants are planning a fresh wave of bomb attacks. The report, which coincides with the anniversary of the bombing of an American military complex in Riyadh last year, follows a massive security clampdown by the Saudi authorities that has resulted in the arrest of 40 Islamic dissidents. All the estimated 10,000 American personnel in Saudi Arabia have been ordered not to leave their residential compounds except in extreme emergencies. .... According to American intelligence reports, Islamic militants are planning a new round of bomb attacks against US targets to show that their terrorist capability has not been affected by the Saudi crackdown. (Note from website author: This attack took place on November 16, 1996 when an attempt was made to shoot down TWA 884, New York to Tel Aviv - See below and see also The Tale of the Tapes) The militants also want to put pressure on Washington to abandon its long-standing support for the Saudi royal family. .... The Saudis now believe that they have detained the ringleaders of the Dhahran attack, including the man who drove the explosive-laden vehicle that was detonated just outside the military complex. Despite mounting speculation that the group responsible for the bombing had been trained and equipped by Iran, the Saudis are refusing to provide any details of the evidence they have acquired from confessions and other sources.
November 16, 1996 22:00 (EST) 4 Rajab
1417 A.H. 5 Kislev
Co-pilot of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 712 Leaving Kennedy at 9:25pm, bound for Frankfurt saw an orange light coming from the left hand side to the right hand side of the airplane. The object was 3 - 4 miles in front of the aircraft and above it. TWA 884 following behind was diverted onto another departure track
November 17, 1996 WCBS-TV
WCBS-TV reports that last night Pakistani International Airlines flight 712 radioed Logan International (Boston) that a missile had just flown by their plane (the story implied 'just missing them') ...Boston confirmed 'two unidentified blips' on radar at the same time as the PIA report.
November 17, 1996 Associated Press
FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette said Sunday, "At this point we don't know what, if anything, was seen." Shah (pilot of PIA 712) said they were told by Boston air traffic controllers that there were no military exercises in the area. He also said the pilots were interviewed by officials with the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt... A TWA plane flying immediately behind the Pakistanis jet Saturday made a similar sighting and asked to turn around .... The TWA plane was rerouted and the air corridor used by the Pakistan Airlines flight was closed.
December 12, 1996 Associated Press
The new, more violent face of terrorism in the 1990s can be summed up in a single word - 'revenge' - an FBI assistant director (Kallstrom) said in a speech at a synagogue Tuesday.
December 12, 1996 1 SHa`baan 1417 A.H. 2
A Saudi Arabian Airlines crew reported sighting a bright greenish object streaking by their plane as it approached Kennedy Airport Thursday morning. It was approaching Kennedy airport, 15 miles south west of East Hampton, at about 12,000 feet when the object appeared on radar. At least one crew member saw the object from the cockpit window for about two seconds.
December 12, 1996 N.Y. Times
The NY Times publishes a diagram provided by the NTSB showing the sequence in which the Boeing 747 came apart. The debris which fell from the aircraft first came from the region to the rear, and including, the R2 hatch just forward of the wing. The nose section fell next and the remainder of the aircraft, including the center fuel tank, fell last. (Subsequent photos of reconstructed wreckage show an apparent exit hole on the starboard side of the aircraft where the aircraft apparently split apart and which exhibits no fire damage forward of the split and extensive fire damage aft of the split).
December 15, 1996 N.Y. Times
...at 2 a.m. the next day, top intelligence and security officials were told in a video-conference from the White House situation room that radar tapes showed an object headed at the plane before it exploded. Days later, the object was found to be an electronic anomaly.
December 17, 1996 The Washington Times
An official with the Defense Intelligence Agency, spy arm of the Pentagon, has informed congressional staff members that, in his opinion, a shoulder-fired missile brought down TWA Flight 800. The same DIA official, described as an expert in missile technology, told the staff members last week that he personally was called in by the FBI in the days following the explosion of the TWA jet to assist with witness interviews, a source present for the congressional briefing told Inside the Beltway yesterday. ...... "In his opinion, the plane was brought down by at least one shoulder-fired missile," said the congressional source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "When he said that, we all took a deep breath," the source added.