The Hull Thread
Chronology of Events From July 1998 - September 1998
Ju1y 1, 1998 The New York Times
Previously undisclosed letters by Timothy McVeigh to his younger sister before the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City portray him as deeply frustrated and at one point suicidal over his inability to confide the extent of his anti-government activities to his family. McVeigh's letters, along with conversations at home, revealed so much anger and alienation that when the bomb exploded on April 19, 1995, eventually killing 168 people and wounding 850, his family suspected him almost immediately, they later told the FBI. ......In a letter to (his sister) Jennifer, written on Oct. 20, 1993, McVeigh said he was tormented by not being able to "tell it all" about his "lawless behavior and attitude." He did not elaborate. ....... The letters and summaries of interviews by investigators were obtained by The New York Times. They provide new insights into McVeigh, who committed the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil. The material was never presented at his trial. ...... McVeigh's real troubles may have begun over money, his father said. In February 1993, the Department of Defense informed Timothy McVeigh that he had been overpaid $1,058 while in the Army and asked for repayment. The episode enraged him. But Jennifer McVeigh, who was her brother's confidante, thought the breaking point came earlier, in 1991, at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Special Forces. .... In his Oct. 20 letter, McVeigh wrote that he and nine other soldiers had been taken to a private intelligence briefing at Fort Bragg, where they were told they could be required to participate in government-sanctioned assassinations and government-sponsored drug trafficking. The government has always denied it carries out such assassinations and drug trafficking. "Why would Tim (characteristically nondrinker), super-successful in the Army (private to sergeant in 2 years) (Top Gun) (Bronze Star) (accepted into Special Forces), all of a sudden come home, party HARD, and, just like that, announce he was not only 'disillusioned' by SF, but was, in fact, leaving the service?" McVeigh asked his sister. The answer, he wrote, lay in what he learned at Fort Bragg, where he and the nine others were told they might be ordered to help the CIA "fly drugs into the U.S. to fund many covert operations" and to "work hand-in-hand with civilian police agencies" as "government-paid assassins." ..... "Why am I running?" he wrote. "I am trying to keep my path 'cool,' so in case someone is looking to 'shut up someone who knows too much' I will not be easy to find. I have also been working, and establishing a 'network' of friends so that if someone does start looking for me, I will know ahead of time and be warned." "If that 'tip' ever comes, (I have 'ears' all over the country) that's when I disappear, or go completely underground," he wrote. "Believe me, if that necessity ever comes to pass, it will be very difficult for anyone to find me."
Ju1y 5, 1998 The New York Times
One picture of Lafi Khalil and Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar is of two young Palestinian men who were drifters in Brooklyn, living hand-to-mouth on short-term jobs and ogling women on the street, but hardly terrorists ready to kill for a cause. Another picture is of two men who were hours or days away from exploding a powerful pipe bomb in New York City's subway, intending to inflict mass death and mayhem, because of hatred of Israel and opposition to the Middle East peace process. On Monday, in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, arguments and testimony are scheduled to begin in the trial of the two men, a case that began when Khalil and Abu Maizar were arrested in a dramatic predawn raid on a squalid apartment in Brooklyn 11 months ago. The raid, in which police have said they found a pipe bomb "fully rigged and ready to be detonated," came hours after another man from the Middle East, who had been living with the defendants, flagged down police officers in the street and told them about the plot, federal and city law-enforcement authorities said. Khalil, 23, and Abu Maizar, 24, were shot and wounded in the raid, police said, because officers opened fire when they feared that one of the men was trying to set off the bomb. Also found in the July 31 raid, police said, was a rambling note that threatened a series of attacks against American and Jewish interests and demanded the release of jailed Islamic militants, including Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who is serving a life sentence for masterminding the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. ..... But last week, as a jury was chosen for the trial, investigators said they had found no evidence linking Abu Maizar and Khalil to any known terrorist group. And shortly after their arrests, Israeli officials had said that neither of the men, both natives of that country's West Bank, was known to have ties to militant groups, although Abu Maizar was arrested in 1990 during a Palestinian uprising for throwing stones at Israelis. ..... A court document .... says that while Abu Maizar was at Kings County Hospital Center recuperating from the wounds he suffered in the police raid, he told a nurse that although he had been involved in "various criminal activities, including credit card scams, drugs and stolen cars," he was "not going to blow up the train but was just going to blackmail $10 million from the government." The document did not indicate how Abu Maizar had planned to carry out the blackmail, but in the days after the men were arrested, investigators said that a copy of the note found during the raid had been mailed two days earlier to a federal program that offers rewards for information on terrorists. ..... The prosecutors ...... declined last week to discuss the government's evidence. But an FBI affidavit submitted shortly after the raid said that Abu Maizar, when questioned by a federal agent and a city police detective, "indicated that he was involved in making the bombs and provided information on how they could be detonated or disarmed," and that he also "indicated that the bombs were targeted for detonation on the subway." After jury selection was completed last week, the prosecutors told Judge Reena Raggi that their early witnesses in the trial, which is expected to last up to a month, would include police bomb experts and the man who told police about the plot, Abdel Rahman Mosabbah, who was a recent immigrant from Egypt also living in the Park Slope apartment. Based on his information, police originally said that the defendants were planning to blow up the busy Atlantic Avenue subway station in downtown Brooklyn, but more recently investigators have suggested that other locations were possible targets. Another prosecution document says that other witnesses are expected to testify that "the political views expressed by the defendants" in the weeks before they were arrested included "opposition to the peace process" between the Palestinians and Israel, "a belief in an independent Palestinian state and a hatred of Israelis and other Jews."
July 12, 1998, NY Times
No Flight 800 Connection - Abu Maizar and Khalil, 23, were arrested last July when the police raided an apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and found what they described as a pipe bomb "fully rigged and ready to be detonated," along with a rambling note that threatened attacks against Jewish and American interests if various demands were not met. The demands included the release of imprisoned Islamic militants including Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was convicted of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Lawyers for Abu Maizar have suggested that he did not intend to set off the bomb but rather planned to use it as a prop in some hazy plot to defraud a government anti-terrorism program of reward money. Khalil's lawyer has not yet addressed the jury, but Khalil insisted after his arrest that he had not known about the bomb's existence. The note -- it was typed on lined yellow paper and rife with grammatical and spelling and punctuation errors -- not only warned that Islamic militants were "ready to hit everywhere" with suicide bombs, but also claimed responsibility for the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 in July 1996, in which 230 people died. Whether Abu Maizar and Khalil are guilty of plotting a subway calamity will be decided by the jury at their trial, but the note's claim of responsibility for the Flight 800 catastrophe will not require a trial, an FBI spokesman indicated. The claim was one of the "thousands of leads" the bureau pursued in its investigation of the TWA crash, the spokesman, Joseph Valiquette, said on Friday. "We are comfortable with our announcement last November that we have found no evidence that a criminal act was responsible for the plane going down," he said.
July 12, 1998 The Associated Press
A Harvard University English professor believes electromagnetic interference - possibly from military craft - might be responsible for the downing of TWA Flight 800. Professor Elaine Scarry's theory is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board as part of its inquiry into the July 17, 1996, crash off Long Island, chairman James Hall said. ..... Investigators say the plane's central fuel tank exploded, but have not been able to say why. Two theories - a bomb or a missile - were ruled out after an extensive probe. An exchange of letters between Ms. Scarry and Hall appears in the July 16 issue of the New York Review of Books, which on April 9 published an article by Ms. Scarry raising the question of whether electromagnetic interference, or EMI, from an outside source triggered the disaster. Ms. Scarry said the interference could have come from one of about 10 military ships or planes in the vicinity. Those craft may have used the kind of powerful signaling equipment that could affect another craft's systems, she said. Electromagnetic signals from other craft could have prompted an electrical charge aboard TWA 800 to jump from high-voltage wires to low voltage wires and then travel to the fuel gauge and the fuel tank. Electromagnetic interference is suspected as the cause of at least six military disasters, Ms. Scarry said. She has asked federal investigators to say whether any other aircraft in the area experienced problems possibly traceable to the same cause. In a March 13 letter to Hall, Ms. Scarry said NTSB findings had not ruled out the possibility that a High Intensity Radiated Field, or HIRF, played a part in the crash of TWA 800. Hall replied in a May 27 letter that the NTSB was going to probe the possibility of electromagnetic phenomena having affected the TWA jetliner. Ms. Scarry insisted in a June 17 letter that a TWA pilot's comments about a ``crazy'' fuel gauge and difficulty stabilizing the plane just before the explosion could be anomalies hinting at an EMI event. Hall was not available for comment.
July 14, 1998 The Washington Times
A report commissioned by a House subcommittee investigating the explosion of TWA Flight 800 endorses key government findings and dismisses the theory that a missile brought down the plane. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, who earlier had backed the missile theory, renounces that scenario as incredible in a draft report to House aviation subcommittee Chairman John Duncan, who authorized the investigation. A copy of the report, dated today, was obtained by The Washington Times. Mr. Traficant dismisses claims that the Boeing 747 was brought down by a U.S. Navy ship, terrorist missile, electromagnetic missile, meteorite or a bomb. "If, for argument's sake, the government is covering up the real cause of this tragedy it is a cover-up involving hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals," Mr. Traficant says in embracing the view shared by the National Transportation Safety Board, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency and the Boeing Co. A group headed by retired Navy Cmdr. William S. Donaldson has charged that two missiles fired from separate locations at sea and near shore hit the airliner and that top government officials covered up the terrorist attack sponsored by a foreign government. That group, Associated Retired Aviation Professionals with financial support from Accuracy in Media, will call July 20 for appointment of an independent counsel or congressional investigation to look into their cover-up charges. "My investigation has fully confirmed the findings of the NTSB, FBI and CIA," Mr. Traficant says in the draft report, which was prompted by Cmdr. Donaldson's suspicions. The report says an accidental explosion of the nearly empty center wing tank destroyed the aging plane, killing all 230 persons aboard July 17, 1996. That conclusion was welcomed by NTSB Managing Director Peter Goelz. "We attempted to be fully responsive to all of Congressman Traficant's inquiries, and we hope we have provided him with all of the information necessary so that he can report back to his committee," Mr. Goelz said. The NTSB yesterday characterized as "extremely remote" suggestions that electromagnetic interference (EMI) from warships or warplanes ignited the explosion. That possibility was suggested by Harvard professor Elaine Scarry in published correspondence with NTSB Chairman James Hall. Bernard Loeb, NTSB director of aviation safety, said EMI was considered from the outset and virtually ruled out. However, NTSB has contracted with the Defense Department's Joint Spectrum Center in Annapolis to further investigate EMI's overall effects on aircraft. Coming from a member of Congress who met and cooperated with "conspiracy theorists," the new report may blunt the impact of the principal critics. "Despite the good intentions of many of these individuals, their assertions are not based on the available evidence," Mr. Traficant says. His draft report is based on a 10-month investigation of the explosion, which occurred shortly after Flight 800 left New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for Paris. Cmdr. Donaldson said he was stunned to learn from a reporter yesterday that his findings were dismissed so lightly by Mr. Traficant. "There isn't any real possibility that it was an accident," Cmdr. Donaldson said yesterday in defending his own 96-page analysis of crash evidence. Cmdr. Donaldson conceded he was wrong to describe as "fact" that the airliner was targeted by state-sponsored terrorists, "an act of war" he charged was concealed by the Clinton administration for political reasons before the 1996 election. "That is an assumption. It shouldn't be classified as fact," Cmdr. Donaldson said, admitting anger at being dismissed by Mr. Traficant's staff without even a phone call to notify him. "I wrote most of the questions they sent to the FBI and NTSB early on," Cmdr. Donaldson said. His case includes a report that the same plane survived being hit twice by lightning in Rome 15 months before the crash, that one witness whose story remains untold was an FBI supervisor, and that a former destroyer gunnery officer described the angle and attack in uncanny detail but received little credence from investigators. "We're going to have witnesses there who saw the aircraft shot down," Cmdr. Donaldson said in an interview. Part of his case rests on the claim -- backed by a TWA flight captain who worked as engineer on the flight from Athens to New York --that the center wing tank was bone dry. However, records show that scorch marks at the rear of the tank indicated 3.75 inches of fuel when it flared.
July 16, 1998 New York Times
Two years after the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, the National Transportation Safety Board is moving toward finishing its investigation without knowing the source of the spark that touched off the explosion that destroyed the Boeing 747. Top officials of the safety board said that within a year they hope to conclude several research projects that will expand their knowledge of how the plane's center fuel tank reached a state where it could sustain an explosion and allow them to make further recommendations for preventing similar explosions. But they acknowledge that determining the precise cause of the detonation may be beyond their grasp. The officials' comments made it seem more likely that the final report on the accident will not answer what for many in the public remains the central mystery of the crash that took 230 lives on July 17, 1996. But for investigators, the central question has always been how to prevent similar explosions. And they said that their investigation had already yielded a series of recommendations sufficient to prevent the buildup of fuel vapors in airplane tanks that they believe made the explosion aboard Flight 800 possible. The officials said that finding the source of the spark is not a reason to continue the investigation indefinitely. "If we were able to pinpoint what ignited T.W.A. Flight 800, and fix that ignition source, there are still the other ignition sources we've identified as possibilities, and the ones we haven't even thought of," said James Hall, chairman of the safety board. Hall said in an interview that he hoped that within the next year the safety board would be able to issue its report on the explosion that destroyed the plane off the coast of Long Island minutes after it took off from Kennedy International Airport for Paris. The safety board has often told the families of those who died in the accident that it might be unable to find the cause of the spark. But the board has only recently set a time frame for ending the investigation. Since the fall of 1996, when investigators concluded that the 747's center tank had exploded, their vision of the end point of the investigation has gradually but fundamentally shifted, away from determining what set it off and toward finding out how such explosions can be prevented. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates Boeing and the airlines but must defer to the safety board in the investigation, is moving in the same direction, planning steps to reduce the risk of fuel tank explosions without knowing what set off Flight 800's. An industry advisory committee, with representatives from Boeing, the airlines, aircraft parts manufacturers and fuel companies, is due to report to the F.A.A. by next Thursday, and is likely to recommend that the airlines switch to a fuel blend that does not turn so easily from liquid to vapor, the form that can burn or explode. T.W.A. says it does not see an end in sight. "As far as I know, they're not even close to any kind of probable cause," said Mark Abels, a spokesman for the airline. He said the investigation could last "many years." But safety board officials are emphasizing not that they are unlikely to pinpoint the cause of the spark, but what they have learned over the last two painstaking years: that the center fuel tank of the 747 exploded; that far more often than previously believed, the empty space in fuel tanks on other commercial jets have conditions that can sustain such explosions; that the wiring of old 747's and other models show a variety of problems, and that simple changes to the fuel or tanks could cut the risk. Meanwhile, airlines that fly 747's, warned by Boeing to expect orders soon from the F.A.A., are inspecting their planes and replacing some parts. These include parts of the fuel probes, which measure fuel volume, and which were found in the case of Flight 800 and other old 747's to show flaws. An increased emphasis on wiring has led to a variety of changes in airplanes, and to the emergency grounding of some older 737's after flaws in fuel-tank wiring were discovered earlier this year. On Flight 800 specifically, the National Transportation Safety Board is pursuing several areas of research. One is computer simulations of center tank explosions, trying to determine from the way this tank came apart where the spark originated. The tank is about the size of a two-car garage, but it is divided into several chambers, and engineers still hope that further analysis of the damage pattern will tell them more about where ignition occurred. The board also plans to blow up a full-size tank from a decommissioned 747. The board blew up a similar tank last year, but that tank had previously been damaged, engineers say, and the fuel they used, propane, had more energy than jet fuel does. The safety board also plans to conduct more test explosions in a one-fourth scale model. The board may hold another round of hearings in the case this fall, as it did last year in Baltimore. It also continues to receive a flood of ideas from around the world, from people with a wide variety of backgrounds. For instance, a retired Navy commander, William S. Donaldson 3d, after a lengthy and sometimes bitter exchange of letters with the board, has drafted a 96-page report that seeks to persuade the aviation subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to hold more hearings on the crash. Donaldson contends that the plane was destroyed by a missile and that the safety board and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are trying to hide this. But a subcommittee member, James A. Traficant Jr., Democrat of Ohio, began looking into the possibility of a missile last September, and concluded in a letter sent Wednesday to the committee chairman, John J. Duncan Jr., Republican of Tennessee, that he had found "not a single shred of evidence to counter the N.T.S.B.'s assertion that the crash was initiated through a fuel air explosion in the center wing fuel tank." The reconstructed wreckage of the plane itself still sits in a hangar in Calverton, N.Y. It may be the longest-surviving T.W.A. 747, because it will be there for the forseeable future, and the airline has since scrapped the rest of its 747's as uneconomical. No one knows what its long-term future is. The reconstructed wreckage of Pan American World Airways Flight 103, another 747, that was brought down by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, 10 years ago in December, is still standing. USAir Flight 427, a Boeing 737 that crashed near Pittsburgh in September 1994, is mostly still in boxes, said Paul Turk, a spokesman for the airline, now called US Airways. United Airlines Flight 585, another 737, which went down near Colorado Springs in March 1991, is also in boxes. "Some of it is in a hangar in Colorado Springs, and some of it is in San Francisco at our maintenance base," said Joe Hopkins, an airline spokesman. "You do reach a point in time where there really is no reason to keep it." But some lawsuits go on for years, he said, and the wreckage could be evidence. "You would not keep it for 100 years, but you might for 15."
July 17, 1998 New York Times
The National Transportation Safety Board has asked a research organization to analyze its operations and determine whether it maintains the proper relationship with airlines, plane manufacturers, the Federal Aviation Administration and other parties in its investigations of crashes. ..... James Hall, the chairman of the five-member board, said in a speech last week that its system was "stressed." The board is a small, independent agency created by Congress that assumes a towering profile whenever a major transportation accident occurs in the air, on the rails or at sea. But it does not conduct investigations; it directs them, using the people, expertise and equipment of other government agencies, the pilots' unions and the companies involved in the accident, like TWA, Valujet and Boeing. Those parties have money or prestige riding on the outcome of the investigations. This "party system" has worked well in the 31 years since the board was created, officials say. But Hall said that since the Valujet crash in the Everglades and the TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island, which killed a total of 340 people in 1996, the board "has been challenged like never before, especially by the news media." A major complaint is that the entities that might have caused a crash are deeply involved in the investigation. Another is that every interest except the victims' is represented in the party system. Yet a federal commission led by Norman Mineta, a former congressman from California, suggested that the parties, now limited to participation in the fact-gathering stage of the investigation, should participate in analysis, too. Another board member, who would not allow her name to be used, said the party system, while useful, had a "fox-in-the-henhouse appearance." But the system has advantages, experts say. A top FAA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the board "has never been flush with talent or numbers; they don't have the level of expertise we do in engines, or air traffic control, or aircraft certification." As a result, the board has had to rely on outside talent, often from the FAA, he said. But, the agency official said, board investigators were skilled generalists. "Often what you need is somebody who knows so little, they don't know right questions to ask, so they ask everything, or they say 'Gee, this could be a crazy idea, but what about this or that,"' the official said. Jane Garvey, the administrator of the FAA, which is the recipient of most of the board's aviation recommendations, said in an interview, "The party system certainly serves the American people well, but it's over three decades old." "I think it's absolutely appropriate to step back, take a look and the system and see if it can be improved," Ms. Garvey said, praising the board for taking on the issue. She is scheduled to attend a session later in the process..... Frank Carven, who lost a sister and a nephew on TWA Flight 800 ... said that the investigation seemed like "a closed-shop old boy network. The board's investigations need a public advocate, like those on public utility commissions who represent consumers at electricity rate hearing, he said.
July 17, 1997 The Press Enterprise, Riverside, CA
On the second anniversary of what Flora Headley calls "my nightmare," the 87-year-old Glendale woman is convinced the truth about TWA Flight 800 will be told. She's just waiting for someone brave enough to come forward and tell what happened to her son, Capt. Ralph Kevorkian, who was piloting the Paris-bound Boeing 747 July 17, 1996. Kevorkian and 229 others aboard died when the jumbo jet exploded off Long Island two years ago today. To Headley, there's no mystery to the cause of the disaster. "It was a missile," Headley said Wednesday. "Nothing else." For two years, she has listened to the Navy, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI deny the tragedy was caused by a bomb or missile. She tried to accept the official explanation that the explosion was probably caused by a spark in a central fuel tank. Last year, she searched for answers among the "jillions" of mangled pieces of jet pulled from the Atlantic and shared her thoughts with relatives of the other victims of Flight 800. .... Headley remains haunted by what she believes is a cover up that goes "all the way to the top," from the Navy to the White House. She said the agony of losing her only child is only part of her nightmare. "I don't know who to believe in any more," she said. "He's gone because of someone's mistake. I know they have the facts. It's a cover-up. I just know." .... Headley said she tries not to let the mystery of her son's death dominate her life. She stays busy, counseling people on nutrition and herbs, a business she has operated from her Glendale home for 25 years. But the former interior decorator said there are just too many gaps in the government's version of the tragedy of Flight 800. If there were an explosion in the fuel tank, she is convinced that her son would have seen something, said something. Yet the flight recorder recovered after the crash revealed nothing that would indicate the crew was experiencing trouble. "There are so many monitors and gauges and warning systems," she said, "Don't tell me he didn't see or say anything. C'mon now, what are they trying to tell me? How come there's nothing in that damn (flight recorder) box? It's insulting my intelligence." Headley is more inclined to believe one pilot's report of a mysterious yellow light intersecting Flight 800 at the moment of explosion. .... She recently abandoned a one-woman petition drive meant to draw attention to her search for answers. "It really hurts me too much." Today, she is more concerned about helping her 31-year-old grandson, Douglas, who is finally receiving counseling to deal with his father's death. She hopes that somebody who knows the truth, perhaps a serviceman who was involved, will someday come forward. She does not expect it in her lifetime. "It will stay covered up until I'm dead and buried." she said. There are moments she feels like giving up. She knows many will hear her words and see only a grieving mother who refuses to let go. "I guess I'm the only stupid one yelling about it," she said. Then she remembers the day her young son built his first plane, a balsa glider they flew together, "running from one room to the other" shouting with delight. She thinks often about the families of the other victims, who entrusted their lives to her son. "It would be nice to close this chapter," Headley said. "I'm glad they found him. I've got his body back. That's not enough. I feel lousy. I feel cheated. They cheated us because we don't know the truth."
July 20, 1998 The Associated Press
A retired Navy pilot who has been investigating the crash of TWA Flight 800 said Monday that the plane was destroyed by two missiles that exploded just off the left wing. William Donaldson, joined at a news conference by two former TWA pilots and three eyewitnesses to the July 1996 crash, did not say who he believes fired such missiles. One, he said, was launched from a boat just off the coast of Long Island, the other from a second vessel farther south. ..... Donaldson said the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, pressured by unidentified, high-ranking U.S. officials, have steered the public toward a theory that the plane's center fuel tank exploded. "Politicians are interfering at the top. People that should be bubbling the answers from the bottom are silenced," Donaldson said at the conclusion of a nearly four-hour briefing that was arranged by Reed Irvine and his conservative group, Accuracy in Media. ..... "Cmdr. Donaldson was wrong when he postulated that Jet-A fuel could not explode. It did. He is wrong today" said Peter Goelz, the board's managing director. FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette said: "We remain unaware of any new evidence that would cause us to reopen our criminal investigation." Besides Donaldson, those speaking at the news conference included retired TWA Capt. Howard Mann, a military accident investigator, and retired TWA Capt. Albert Mundo, who served as flight engineer on the next-to-last flight of the Boeing 747.
July 21, 1998 New York Times
One of two Palestinians charged with plotting to explode a powerful pipe bomb in the New York City subway testified Monday that he had planned to kill as many Jews as possible in a suicide bomb attack, though he insisted not on the subway. The defendant, Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar, also told the jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn that before he came to New York, "I failed to assassinate President Clinton in Seattle, Washington." Abu Maizar was not asked to elaborate on this claim and said nothing more about it. Later, both prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case said this was the first time they had ever heard such a claim. And some some investigators privately expressed skepticism about the claim, pointing out that a note found with a pipe bomb in Abu Maizar's Brooklyn apartment when the police raided it last July claimed responsibility for the 1996 crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, which Federal officials have said was not the result of a criminal act. Abu Maizar's testimony Monday was also at odds with the contentions of his own lawyers, who have argued that he had not intended to explode the pipe bomb but rather had planned to use it as a prop in a scheme to collect reward money from a government antiterrorism program. .... During his testimony Monday, a prosecutor, Bernadette Miragliotta, asked him: "You wanted to make sure that you took as many Jews as possible with you?" "As many as I could take," the 24-year-old Abu Maizar declared in the dramatic testimony, in which he also asserted to the jury that he had "come to the United States because I feel that the United States is supporting the Jewish state and the United States should be punished for supporting Israel." Abu Maizar denied that he had planned to explode the bomb in the subway, but, under questioning, did not say where he intended to explode it. He also insisted that the second Palestinian man on trial with him in the case, Lafi Khalil, 23, was not involved in the bombing plan. Furthermore, he contended that another immigrant from the Middle East who told the police about the plan, a roommate named Abdel Rahman Mosabbah, had in fact been a participant in the plot -- a statement investigators said was false. Ms. Miragliotta, an assistant United States attorney in Brooklyn, noted in cross-examining Abu Maizar that an F.B.I. agent had testified that after his arrest, the defendant told him he had "wanted to bomb the B train because there are a lot of Jews on the B train," which serves the predominantly Jewish Borough Park area of Brooklyn. "That's not true," Abu Maizar replied as he repeatedly denied that the subway was the target of his bombing plan. But when Ms. Miragliotta asked whether he had told the agent "that you wanted to blow yourself and the police up when they came into your apartment" in the raid last July, Abu Maizar replied forcefully that he would have done that if given the chance. ..... Khalil told investigators after his arrest that he did not know of the existence of the powerful pipe bomb found in the apartment with him and Abu Maizar -- a device the prosecution has said Abu Maizar was planning to explode just a few hours after his arrest. Wearing the Muslim skullcap that he has sometimes worn during the trial, Abu Maizar, a sharp-featured man who spoke in strong but even tones, said he was a supporter, though not a member, of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that has claimed responsibility for the majority of suicide bombings in Israel in recent years. "I always dreamed to be a martyr," he declared. Later, outside the courtroom, Padden said that Abu Maizar's declaration on the witness stand that he had planned a suicide bombing would not change the defense argument -- thus creating the unusual situation of lawyers disavowing their client's testimony. "In spite of what he said," Padden told reporters, "our theory is, and our argument will be, that there is no evidence he intended to use the bomb."
July 21, 1998 WorldNetDaily
"Somebody came into our waters and shot down -- for the first time ever -- a flag carrier of the United States," an expert on the explosion of TWA Flight 800 said at a Washington briefing yesterday. Commander Bill Donaldson, a retired Navy pilot and accident investigator who has spent 15 months examining the case, said that two missiles were fired in the vicinity of the airplane, and that one of them exploded close enough to bring the plane down. It's no wonder, he said, that investigators did not find evidence of a direct missile hit; the missile was of a type specifically designed to explode near (rather than in contact with) its target. Flight 800, Donaldson said, "was intentionally destroyed by a powerful, proximity fused, airbursting, anti-aircraft weapon launched from a position approximately one nautical mile off shore and three nautical miles east of Moriches Inlet, Long Island, New York." In addition, the airplane was "engaged seconds later by a second missile fired from a closer position to the south of [the plane's] track." ..... Those appearing at the briefing to support Donaldson's theory included a helicopter pilot who saw the explosion, a man who saw it from the ground, and a now-retired TWA captain who had served as flight engineer on the same plane just a few hours before, on its flight from Athens. Donaldson believes that a missile detonated on the plane's left side, about 20 feet from the hull and "probably slightly low," sending a shock wave that blew open the skin on the left wing. The airplane then moved violently to the right and rolled almost onto its back in an instant, some "144 degrees in one second." The stress created by the missile explosion caused the plane itself to explode in bright flash followed by a dull red-orange fireball that fell to the water amid a cloud of black smoke. In preparing his report, Donaldson analyzed the composition and distribution of debris from the plane, interviewed witnesses who claimed to have seen a missile streaking toward the plane (and turning as if homing in on the plane's radio signals), and examined all the official documents released in the case. He said that he is apparently "the only trained accident investigator" who has interviewed most of the witnesses; the FBI allegedly blocked NTSB investigators from conducting their own interviews. Among the eyewitnesses who saw what appeared to be a missile attack, Donaldson said, was an FBI agent. "He said he had seen a plane shot down." Admiral Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the briefing in support of Donaldson. "This certainly appears to be an act of terrorism," Moorer said. He called the Donaldson report "very excellent" and said Congress should conduct its own investigation of the explosion. Vernon Grose, a physicist and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, attended the briefing as an observer. He said he was interviewed on CNN for six hours the night of the disaster and has been interviewed on the subject some 170 times. "I've spent two years defending the NTSB," he said, only to find that the facts don't seem to line up with the official story. He told WorldNetDaily that he felt "betrayed" by the NTSB. The Donaldson briefing "disturbed" him, and he believes that government officials may have come to a conclusion first, then tried to make the facts fit their theory. "There ought to be an open, public hearing" to address the points made by Donaldson and others. Grose said he's not a fan of conspiracy theories, and he believes there might be a reasonable explanation for the government's behavior in this case. "But if the truth contradicts what has been said, let it be heard," he said. At the briefing, Captain Al Mundo, flight engineer on the same plane on its previous flight, said he finds the official theory "highly improbable." After the earlier flight, he had performed a procedure that cleared the center fuel tank. "I question whether vapors were even in the tank," he said, due to physical processes that should have cleared any vapors that were present. The helicopter pilot eyewitness -- Fred Meyer, a lawyer and Vietnam veteran Naval aviator -- said at the briefing that, "Based on two combat tours, it is my firm belief to this day that it was military ordnance." The government theory, he said, is "a government excuse for something -- totally mystifying. I know what I saw." Richard Goss, a businessman who saw what appeared to be a missile, said that at first he thought it was part of a fireworks display. "Someone else at the Yacht Club [from which he saw the incident] even said, 'Look at the fireworks!,' and we waited for the display." His reaction to the government's version as seen in a CIA-produced computer simulation: "Personally, it was a joke to me. It was an insult. It was so different from what I saw." "You'll have a hard time finding an airline pilot, off the record, who believes the official story", Donaldson said. The NTSB, he said, "has been politicized." "There is no organized cover-up" in the conspiratorial sense, he said. Rather, in typical bureaucratic fashion, top officials let the official version be known to the people under them. In turn, lower-level investigators -- each of whom possessed only partial knowledge of the facts in the case -- assumed that the higher-ups had a basis for their theory, and set about to find the facts that would back it up. But who made the decision that the fuel-tank theory would become the official version? "You've got to go above the NTSB and above the Justice Department to get the answer," Donaldson suggested.
July 21, 1998 By Reed Irvine, Chairman, Accuracy in
Dr. Vernon Grose, a former board member of the National Transportation Safety Board and a staunch defender of the NTSB's claim that the crash of TWA Flight 800 was initiated by the explosion of the center wing fuel tank, underwent a complete change of mind while attending a briefing on the causes of the crash by Cmdr. William S. Donaldson and others on July 20. Dr. Gross, a former consultant to CNN on the TWA 800 crash, had been interviewed on television and radio nearly 200 times, defending the official position against its critics. He came to the briefing, which was held to unveil a new 109-page report by Cmdr. William S. Donaldson on the cause of the crash, out of curiosity. When he left some three hours later, he told reporters that what he had heard and seen had caused him to completely change his mind. He said that he was deeply disturbed and felt that he had been misled by the NTSB. He could no longer believe the government's explanation of the cause of the crash. He made his next TV appearance that night with Bill Donaldson, this time criticizing the NTSB, not defending it. If you didn't see Dr. Grose's epiphany reported on the evening news that night, or in your newspaper the next morning, it was because the reporters and news organizations that claim to be eager to bring you the latest important, exciting news either didn't bother to attend the briefing or, unlike Dr. Grose, were either unable to comprehend what they heard or too close minded to allow it to influence their thinking. There were TV cameras at the briefing, but none from ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN. They have all swallowed the NTSB line and don't want to be bothered with the facts. CNN, of course, got into big trouble for ignoring the evidence in doing its notorious Tailwind story and allowing itself to be guided by the belief that the government had lied about what transpired in Laos in 1970. It spent eight months working on that ridiculous story, interviewing over 200 people. But when it comes to trying to find out what really caused the crash of TWA Flight 800, it allows itself to be guided by the belief that the government would never lie, and it is not willing to spend three hours listening to experienced aircraft accident investigators and eyewitnesses to the crash tell what they have found in their 15-month investigation and, in the case of the eyewitnesses, what they actually saw. They and their colleagues in the other networks and in the print media just don't seem to grasp the fact that the government has a theory that is supported by no evidence and that flies in the face of the testimony of over a hundred eyewitnesses. They don't seem to grasp the similarity of what they are doing in their approach to this story and what CNN did in producing "Valley of Death." The similarity is that they are being guided by a theory and ignoring the evidence that proves that it is false. One can't expect them to develop the expertise of Bill Donaldson and the others with whom he has worked for 15 months to get at the truth and incidentally expose the deceit practiced by the government's investigators. But, as journalists, they should be able to recognize a story when a man of Vernon Grose's caliber and background is willing to listen to the facts and confess that he has been giving the public incorrect information on an important case of this kind. The Associated Press, the supposedly level-headed, professional organization that supplies news to the entire country, couldn't see that. Newsday decided that nothing should be reported about the briefing because they accept the NTSB's explanation which Dr. Grose now says is based on misleading information. The Washington Times, which had not covered the briefing, distinguished itself by grafting on to the AP story comments by Dr. Grose. But one had to go to the Internet to get a reasonably decent report on what it was that changed Dr. Grose's mind. The evidence Donaldson presented included strong eyewitness testimony which he had personally obtained. He showed a chart on which he had plotted where these people were when they saw the missile and where it was. Connecting the dots, he was able to show that one missile was launched about a mile off shore from the barrier island that runs along the southern coast of Long Island. Paul Angelides, an engineer, who has a home on the island only a little over a mile from the estimated launch point, saw the missile ascending. He said the noise was so great that it shook his house. He watched the missile streaking southward toward TWA 800, seven nautical miles away, and explode. Al Gipe, a former Navy gunnery officer, was on his sail boat out at sea 25 nautical miles offshore. He saw what he thought was an emergency flare go up about 15 miles to the north. He said it looked like a 40 mm. tracer bullet, streaking upward, from south to north, until it exploded high in the sky a few seconds later. He noted down his position at the time, and not long after he learned the coordinates of the crash site from the radio. The estimated launch point was about three miles from the crash site. These were obviously two different missiles, but they both exploded almost at the same time very close to each other and close enough to TWA Flight 800 to destroy it. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the radar at McArthur Airport on Long Island had recorded a surface target three nautical miles to the south of the crash site that headed out to sea doing 30 knots when TWA 800 exploded. Donaldson said that for it to be recorded by the radar, its superstructure had to rise 60 feet above the water. Its size and speed rules out a merchant ship. Racing out to sea instead of heading for the accident site to see if it could be of help is highly suspicious. This was only one of four surface targets recorded on radar near the crash site that have not been identified. Bill Donaldson said he had tried hard to get the FBI and the NTSB to tell him what ships these were, but they claim they don't know. At the press briefing, Donaldson demonstrated that the eyewitness testimony indicating that two powerful missiles exploded in close proximity to TWA Flight 800 was confirmed by the evidence found in the wreckage. For one thing, he revealed that the tail section of the plane separated from the fuselage at about the same time the nose broke off. The vertical stabilizer was found floating close to the nose in the red zone, the debris field closest to Long Island. It showed no evidence of fire or sooting, indicating that it broke off before the fuel tank exploded. Parts of seats from the last row in the plane were found in the same area. Donaldson said the NTSB had tried to conceal this evidence because it showed that there were two high-energy explosions, one near the front of the aircraft and the other near the rear that preceded the fuel tank explosion. There was obviously much, much more. It can be found in Donaldson's report on the Internet at http://members.aol.com/fl800/index.html And journalists wonder why they rank so low in public trust.
21 July, 1998 By Scott Hogenson CNS Executive
A former National Transportation Safety Board member says he can no longer support the conclusion of the NTSB that a spark in a fuel cell caused the explosion and crash of TWA Flight 800 more than two years ago. Dr. Vernon L. Grose, who also served as a regular commentator on CNN during its coverage of the incident, told CNS in an exclusive interview that new evidence about the explosion indicates that a possible missile detonation may have brought down the airliner, killing all 230 passengers and crew on board. During a presentation of information Monday on the crash, Grose said he saw previously undisclosed evidence that a near-proximity missile explosion may have brought down the jet. "It disturbed me to see photographic evidence of impinging bent in, not bent out skin of the aircraft forward of the center fuel tank, and that is sufficiently primary evidence that should be explained away." .... Grose, who spent six hours on CNN as an expert commentator the night of the explosion, said the new information indicates that a blast occurred on the outside of the aircraft, not the inside. In describing the debris recovered from around the area in which the fuel tanks are thought to have exploded, Grose said "The wreckage that they've assembled is imploded, rather than exploded at that point," indicating a pressure from outside the aircraft. .... "The idea of a pressure wave has some merit that needs to be either answered or dismissed, and that's where I felt that the NTSB had not really fully explained that," Grose said. Grose was also critical of some aspects of the FBI's handling of the case, saying the bureau's refusal to turn over complete information on eyewitness interviews hurts the investigation and generates more speculation. One of the things Grose said that caused him to "recalibrate" his position on the cause of the crash was "the reticence of the FBI to join and expose what they learned in their interrogation of witnesses, which they cut the NTSB out of." "If you don't come to clean resolution, you invite all kinds of conspiracy theory," Grose said. "I really object to the FBI thinking that they can keep all that they did as black secrets if in fact they endorse the center fuel tank (explosion theory)." A member of the NTSB from 1983-1984, Grose also took part in Vice President Al Gore's White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security in 1997. For two years, Grose discounted the missile theory surrounding the downing of TWA Flight 800, and even debated the issue on national television. His list of media credentials includes appearances on NBC's Today Show, ABC's Good Morning, America, and World News Tonight, and more than 100 appearances on CNN. "Even then I was holding out against both bomb and missile (theories) until we had more evidence," said Grose. But new forensic data and information alleging that the FBI suppressed eyewitness testimony has apparently provided Grose with the evidence he needed to revise his thinking on what caused the crash of TWA Flight 800. "There's no question that the FBI shut down the investigation," Grose said.
July 23, 1998 New York Times
Iran successfully tested a medium-range missile on Wednesday, a senior administration official said on Wednesday night. The weapon, with a range of about 800 miles, is capable of hitting Israel and Saudi Arabia, and of altering the political and military balance of power in the Middle East, he said. "This weapon would allow Iran to strike all of Israel, all of Saudi Arabia, most of Turkey and a tip of Russia," said the official .. a U.S. spy satellite had detected the test on Wednesday morning .... intelligence experts were still poring over data from the launching of the missile, which they believe Iran bought from North Korea. ... The test on Wednesday comes as the United States and Iran have been making cautious overtures toward improving relations, after a long chill. Just last month, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate who took office last summer and who has confronted considerable resistance from religious and other conservatives. ...Under Iran's Islamic constitution Iran's military, security and intelligence forces follow the orders of Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, not Iran's president, Mohammed Khatami. The two have been at odds over Mr. Khatami's tentative overtures to the West .... Present and former intelligence officials said the missile came from North Korea, which has vowed to continue selling its weapons to any nation that can provide that cash-starved regime with hard currency. The official North Korean news agency issued a statement last month saying that "our missile export is aimed at obtaining foreign money we need at present." U.S. intelligence officials say millions of dollars that Iran has paid North Korean is invested in more missile production rather than in civilian needs. .... "There is some prestige element here," he said. "We have long thought that the Iranians believe that such a weapon would give them a reach inside the region, and that they believe that it serves their interests in terms of being a strong power in the Middle East." .... "My guess is they purchased a very small number of these missiles, and that this is as much a political statement as anything, and that the statement is to Israel, and that statement is: 'You are now vulnerable. You have to take us seriously."' ... "The important point here is that they have very little indigenous internal capability to make a real missile, and they've required extensive outside technical support," this former official said. "But they've been willing to spend the money. I'd guess the Rodong would cost $10 million," referring to the North Korean missile. .... "In the long term," he said, "the missile production assistance they've gotten from Russia and China will have the greater impact. But the Rodongs are the attention-getters." Iran has a well-established Scud missile program dating back to the war with Iraq of the 1980s. That war, a U.S. intelligence analyst said on Wednesday, "gave them the experience of using missiles as a weapon of terror, both at receiving and delivering terror." ...... The name Iran has give the missile, he said, is the Shahab-3. Administration officials contend that they have had some success in limiting Russian and Chinese military assistance to Iran. Russia said last week it was investigating nine companies for illegally providing weapons technology to Iran, and the United States imposed trade restrictions on those firms.
July 24, 1998 New York Times
A Palestinian immigrant who testified that he had wanted to kill as many Jews as possible in a suicide attack was convicted Thursday of plotting to explode a powerful pipe bomb in the New York City subway. But in a case that raised the specter of another terrorist attack in a city where the World Trade Center was bombed five years ago, the jury in federal district court in Brooklyn acquitted a second defendant of charges that he had been part of the conspiracy, instead finding him guilty only of an immigration-related fraud charge. .... After the jury pronounced Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar guilty of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, he exclaimed at the defense table: "Palestinian children do not deserve to die! Nobody in the world deserves to die!" .... Abu Maizar now faces a sentence of life in prison. The immigration charge Khalil was convicted of is normally punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but prosecution and defense lawyers said it could bring a sentence of up to 25 years in this case if the judge finds that Khalil used it to further a terrorist plot, a judicial finding that is possible despite the jury's acquittal of Khalil on charges in the bomb plot. Investigators in the United States have said they had found no evidence linking the defendants to any known terrorist group. And the Israeli government has said that the men -- who came to the United States separately and met several months before they were arrested -- were not known to have ties to militant groups, although Abu Maizar was arrested as a teen-ager in 1990 for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during Palestinian protests.
July 26, 1998 Flight 800 discussion list
<FLIGHT-800@HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM> Michael Rivero
Click for AFFIDAVIT OF C.W. BASSETT
C.W. BASSETT, having been duly sworn, deposes and says: I am a chemist working for NASA, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. In early 1997, Dr. Merritt Birky, in connection with the NTSB's investigation into the cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800 forwarded to me residue samples identified as being removed from seats that were recovered from the airplane's wreckage. Dr. Birky requested that I compare the chemical composition of those samples to 3M Scotch-grip 1357 HP adhesive. This affidavit is submitted to provide a general synopsis, in layman's terms, of certain aspects of the laboratory analysis I conducted, and general observations regarding the conclusions that can and cannot be drawn from them. Particularly since this subject entails technical matters of a complex nature, this affidavit does not attempt to discuss the full scope of the testing or conclusions drawn from it. The tests performed by me at NASA - KSC on samples Dr. Birky said were from rows 17, 19, 24 and 27 of the flight 800 cabin interior did not address the issue of origin of any reddish-orange residue. The tests I performed for the NTSB cannot answer such a question. The tests conducted by me at NASA-KSC did not identify specific elements, by quantity, within the within the reddish - orange residue of the sample submitted to them by Mr. Sanders. At NASA, we used Fourier-Transform Infrared ("FT-IR") spectroscopy to analyze the reddish colored samples provided by the NTSB. Since FT-IR is specifically a technique used fore characterizing by functional groups the molecular structure of organic materials, we would not be able to corroborate the presence of elemental compounds other than by subjective context. FT-IR does not objectively identify elemental quantity within a sample, which would be a necessary first step in determining 3M Scotch-grip 1357 adhesive is consistent with the other samples identified by specific elements. FT-IR analysis alone would not be my choice of tools to determine the presence of specific elements. To accurately identify, and to quantify, amounts of each constituent, one would need to employ a technique specifically designed to provide quantitative elemental analysis. In the course of my testing, I observed the color of 3M Scotch-grip 1357 HP adhesive under different conditions. The adhesive, when cured, is dark green to olive drab in color. Depending on degrees and intervals of elevated temperatures, the adhesive progresses towards a darker shade of green and then to varying shades of brown, mostly very dark in either case. I did not achieve a red coloration during my analysis of the residue. (signed) C.W. Bassett AFFIDAVIT STATE OF FLORIDA, COUNTY OF BREVARD. Before me this day personally appeared C.W. BASSETT who, being duly sworn, deposes and says the statements presented in the above affidavit are true and correct to the best of his knowledge. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23rd day of July, 1998. (signed) Carolyn B. Pecquet NOTARY PUBLIC CC 523345.
July 28, 1998 Robert Davey firstname.lastname@example.org
A Flight 800 crash investigator has told the Voice that TWA recently challenged the National Transportation Safety Board's interpretation of the last complete line of data taken from the plane's Flight Data Recorder (FDR), saying that the software used to analyze the data is outdated and unreliable. The 747 went down off Long Island on July 17, 1996, killing all 230 people aboard. The NTSB says the crash was caused by an explosion in the plane's center fuel tank, but has been unable to identify the source of the spark that ignited the explosion. The NTSB published its findings late last year, in a report written by Flight Data Recorder Group chairman Dennis Grossi. But the questions raised by TWA prompted Grossi to invite a TWA engineer to visit the NTSB's lab in Washington to review the raw data as it was retrieved from the FDR's magnetic tape. That meeting was set for last week. If TWA remains unconvinced that the NTSB position is correct, the investigator said, the NTSB may call the entire FDR Group back to Washington. In that case, group members (including representatives from TWA, Boeing, the Air Line Pilots Association-and in this case, the FBI too) will get another shot at explaining what the information on the FDR tape means. At issue is the significance of the last line of data, which contains several values that pilots say are impossible for a 747 in flight to generate. The NTSB says these values are garbled and useless data left over from a previous flight. But retired Navy commander William S. Donaldson insisted at a Washington press conference in January and again on July 20 that the last line of FDR data is indeed from Flight 800 and that the values recorded are evidence of the explosion of a missile warhead outside the airplane. TWA spokesman Mark Abels declined to comment. Peter Goelz, managing director of the NTSB, did not return a call seeking comment.
July 31, 1998 The Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - A farm-supply company was robbed of more than 25 tons of ammonium nitrate, the same chemical used in the Oklahoma City bombing, federal officials said Friday. The amount stolen is roughly 10 times greater than that used in the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people. "Our main focus is to account for it. However, we are treating this with the utmost caution," said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dennis Lormel. The theft from a bulk storage bin at Bruceton Farm Services was reported to Preston County sheriff's officials on Wednesday. It was not known when it was taken.
August 7, 1998 14 Raby` al-THaany 1419 A.H.
15 Av 5758 The Associated Press
Terrorist bombs exploded minutes apart outside the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania today, turning buildings into mountains of shattered concrete and leaving burning hulks of buses and cars. More than 50 people were killed and 1,000 injured, officials said. The State Department had no official comment on casualties but there were believed to be six dead Americans, perhaps more, all in Nairobi. More than 40 people were killed and 1,000 wounded in the Kenyan capital alone, said Red Cross spokeswoman Nina Galbe. Witnesses said at least nine were killed and 16 hurt when a car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Embassy in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. ''There was no warning and there has been no claim of responsibility,'' said State Department spokesman Lee McClenny. ''They were terrorist attacks.'' The Islamic Jihad, a successor to the group that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, vowed last week to strike American interests because some of its members were arrested in Albania and handed over to Egypt, according to a report Thursday in Al-Hayat, an Arabic-language newspaper in London. ...
August 7, 1998 EmergencyNet News "Instant Updates" and News
Two bomb explosions on Friday targeted the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Police in both countries say that at least 50 people have been killed and more than 400 others have been wounded. At about 1035 hours local time (735 GMT), a huge blast was heard throughout the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. A few minutes later, another explosion was reported in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. ..... U.S. officials refused to speculate on who was responsible for the blasts, but on Thursday, Arab news media reported that the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri -- currently residing in Taleban-controlled areas in Afghanistan -- had vowed to "take revenge against the U.S." which it blames for the arrests of a number of Egyptian Islamists while they were in Tirana, and for their subsequent extradition to Egypt. .... In a communique released by the group, they stated that: "We are interested in briefly telling the Americans that their message has been recieved and that the response, which we hope they will read carefully, is being prepared. Because we -- with God's help -- will write it in the language that they understand." Dr. al-Zawahiri was a participant in the establishment of the "World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders" which was allegedly established by Osama bin-Ladin.
August 8, 1998 The New York Times
Administration officials said the attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa only minutes apart Friday probably were carried out by one of a small number of sophisticated terrorist groups presumed to have attacked U.S. installations in the past. ..... A senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that based on early circumstantial evidence, the investigators were focusing on followers of Osama bin Laden, a multimillionaire Saudi-born financier who has sworn to wage a holy war on the United States and its interests abroad. The U.S. official declined to describe the evidence. Earlier this year, Laden and a group of extremist Muslim clerics called on their followers to kill Americans. He is considered a prime suspect in a 1996 terrorist bombing of an American apartment complex in Saudi Arabia in which 19 U.S. airmen were killed. Administration officials said there were also suspicions that the attacks in East Africa may have been carried out by the Holy War organization in Egypt, an Islamic extremist group that warned earlier this week of reprisals against the United States over its purported involvement in the extradition to Egypt of three of its members who were arrested in Albania. .... As the first teams of U.S. investigators were leaving for East Africa, President Clinton, who was awakened at 5:30 a.m. with news of the bombings, condemned them as "cowardly acts." ..... Administration officials said suspicion was falling on Laden in part because of the location of the terrorist attacks Friday. Laden, who has been described by the State Department as "one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world," has close ties to Muslim extremist groups in Sudan, which borders Kenya to the north, and lived in Sudan before relocating to Afghanistan in 1996. The United States has long had strained ties with the Sudanese government, which it has accused of harboring terrorist groups, and has moved most of its embassy employees out of Sudan to Nairobi, where they work out of the embassy building that was bombed Friday. U.S. officials say that Laden sends tens of millions of dollars through Islamic banks and charities to terrorist organizations, militant groups and extremist political movements based in Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and the Philippines, as well as providing support for Jihad, which is also suspected of involvement in the attacks in Africa. Last month, a newspaper in Kuwait quoted Ayman al-Zawahri, a physician and leader of Holy War, as renewing his call for attacks against American interests. The newspaper said Zawahri was then living in Afghanistan with Laden, who has been stripped of his Saudi citizenship by the government in Riyadh.
August 8, 1998 The New York Times
It is still unclear who is behind the evil bombing attacks against two U.S. embassies in Africa, but if you want to speculate here are some things to consider: .... Which countries or groups might have the capabilities and intentions to pull off such a twin attack? Iran: Anyone who is following Iranian politics can see that there is a civil war going on inside Iran, between hard-line fundamentalists associated with Iran's spiritual guide, Ali Khamenei, and moderates aligned with President Mohammad Khatami. Although Mr. Khatami is President, Iran's intelligence services -- which are suspected of involvement in previous bombings against Jewish targets in Argentina and U.S. targets in the Middle East -- are still under the control of Mr. Khamenei and the hard-liners. The White House has recently made important overtures to President Khatami and the moderates to see if it is possible to forge a new relationship, which Mr. Khatami himself has encouraged. The Iranian hard-liners are not pleased with this, and they are trying to undermine Mr. Khatami and his allies every way they can. The Iranian hard-liners may believe that the best way to kill any budding rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. is by killing Americans. Indeed, you can be sure that the closer the U.S. and Iran inch toward better relations, the more the hard-core, anti-American Iranian forces will do things to rupture them. Iraq: Iraq too would have the capabilities and intentions to hit U.S. targets. It's hard to see why Iraq, when it's desperate to get the U.N. economic sanctions lifted, would undertake such an egregious attack on the U.S., which could only set back the lifting of sanctions indefinitely. But when it comes to Saddam Hussein, any perverse logic is possible. A new Ramzi Yousef: Ramzi Yousef and his gang were sophisticated enough to pull off the 1993 truck bomb attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan, which killed 6 people and injured more than 1,000. ... There are more than a few Ramzi Yousefs still out there. They hate America because it is the most powerful country in the world, because they feel it throws its economic weight around with great arrogance and because its cultural exports uproot their traditional societies. They use the best of today's modern technology for the most evil of deeds. One reason Ramzi Yousef was caught was because police found his Toshiba laptop computer in his Manila apartment where all his plots were filed on the hard drive. For now one can draw only a couple of conclusions. One is that the U.S. pays a price for letting things like the Khobar Towers bombing go without retaliation. Khobar Towers was the U.S. military apartment building in Saudi Arabia where a huge truck bomb exploded June 25, 1996, killing 19 Americans. The Saudis have never turned over all the evidence because some of it reveals links to Iran. The Saudis didn't want the U.S. retaliating against Iran and then leaving Saudi Arabia to absorb the counterstrike. The White House basically bowed to Saudi wishes. But when people think they can attack the U.S. with impunity, they will be tempted to try again. The other conclusion is that if the U.S. is compelled to retaliate, the Monica Lewinsky affair can only complicate matters. Every foreign or domestic actor who is looking for excuses to oppose any U.S. retaliation in this case will claim that President Clinton is only acting to distract attention from his embarrassing entanglements, and that will make building diplomatic support more difficult. Just one more reason why it was so reckless for the Commander in Chief to be involved in any sort of improper relationship in the Oval Office.
August 8, 1998 The New York Times
The F.B.I told Argentina today that it believed Iranian Embassy officials were involved in the 1994 Bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish Center in which 86 people were killed. Officials gave Interior Minister Carlos Corach the findings of 40 agents who traveled to Argentina earlier this year to investigate the bombing, which blew apart the country's largest Jewish community center, in the heart of Buenos Aires. The attack followed the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, which killed 29 people. ... The only people charged are a gang of car thieves suspected of providing the vehicle used.
August 10, 1998 International News Electronic
American intelligence is convinced the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings were planned for months. Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State, indicated yesterday that a leading suspect was Osama bin Laden, 45, a Saudi exile who in February issued a religious ruling, saying that it was the duty of "every Muslim" to "kill the Americans and their allies". Mrs Albright said that while she was reluctant to comment on whom the FBI was focusing on, clearly bin Laden was "a very anti-American" sponsor of international terrorism. A senior American official confirmed that Washington had the Saudi "at the top of the list" because he was known to have an extensive terrorist network in Africa. He operated from Kenya's northern neighbour, Sudan, before moving with 150 men to Afghanistan in 1996. He is encamped with his three wives in Kandahar. He was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994, and now uses a fortune of more than £100 million, inherited from his father's road construction business, to spread terror. The American official said there was no "hard evidence" of his involvement as yet, but intelligence agencies in Washington had information that some of his operatives were based in Nairobi. Bin Laden is being given shelter by the Taliban, the radical Islamic group in control of much of the country, because of his support for the Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in the Eighties. Abdel Hai Mutmatian, a Taliban spokesman, told the New York Times from Kandahar yesterday that the group had recently reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to prevent bin Laden from conducting "any political activities" outside Afghanistan. The spokesman said: "He is not under house arrest here - he is our guest. But we have told him no political activity is to be initiated from here." American officials said that the State Department received information on June 12 that bin Laden was threatening "some type of terrorist action in the next several weeks". On July 29, the Chicago-based Emergency Response and Research Institute quoted bin Laden as virtually admitting to being behind the killing of Americans in Riyadh and the attack at the Khobar Towers in 1996 that killed 19 Americans in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Another Afghanistan-based terrorist, Ayman Zawahri, a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, was also high on the list of suspects.
August 11, 1998 The New York Times
The United States offered a $2 million reward Monday for information about the embassy bombings, and investigators focused on credible eyewitness reports of a truck that may have carried the bomb that wrecked the American Embassy here and the terrorists who carried out the attack. Officials from the CIA and the FBI were also evaluating other preliminary leads. They included a terrorist manifesto delivered in Cairo that praised Osama bin Laden, a Saudi financier whom American officials have identified as a possible suspect, and vague warnings picked up by a foreign intelligence agency that an Islamic terrorist group might be planning an attack in Kenya. ...... The FBI team is larger than the one sent to investigate the 1996 bombing at the Air Force apartment complex in Saudi Arabia. FBI officials are trying to determine what kind of explosive was used in the attack, which will help focus their investigation. .... Among the facts the investigators had in hand today were a few tantalizing leads. The Tanzanian police said that they had detained "several" suspects -- said to be Iraqis and Somalis -- but Susan Rice, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, cautioned that the detentions were part of a routine roundup and should not be taken too seriously. A foreign diplomat here said in an interview today that a foreign intelligence service reported indications months ago that an Islamic terrorist organization with bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan might be planning an attack in Kenya. An American official confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies were aware of that report. "We were told to take care for flights coming from Pakistan," the foreign diplomat said. .... The investigators were also analyzing a statement issued by a previously unknown Islamic group taking responsibility for the attack. American and foreign intelligence officials said that they were still evaluating whether the manifesto was credible, and they cautioned that claims of responsibility were easily made and difficult to verify. In the Arabic-language communique, the group said it would "pursue United States forces and strike at United States interests everywhere" unless changes were made in American policy in the Middle East. The statement included several signs pointing toward bin Laden, who has financed and otherwise supported previous terrorist attacks on American outposts, according to U.S. officials. The communique, issued to a French news agency and made public in Cairo this morning, said the group was inspired by the statements of bin Laden. Four Saudis beheaded for bombing an American installation in Riyadh in November 1995 said in televised confessions that they, too, were inspired by bin Laden. The statement demanded the withdrawal of American forces in Saudi Arabia and an end to U.S. support for Israel. It also called for the release of imprisoned Islamic militants -- "first and foremost Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman," the blind cleric convicted and imprisoned for life for his role in a plot to bomb several New York sites, including the United Nations. Bin Laden has voiced similar demands in the past. He not only sheltered Sheik Rahman but also harbored Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, in homes bin Laden owned in Peshawar, Pakistan, near the Afghan border. The statement also said "a man from Egypt who belongs to the Abdallah Azzam battalion" carried out Friday's attack on the American Embassy in Tanzania. Abdallah Azzam, who died in 1989, was a Palestinian who fought alongside the CIA-supported Afghan rebels battling Soviet invaders in the 1980s. "He was bin Laden's partner" in Islamic militant politics, an American official said in an interview. It was also in 1989 that bin Laden, whose family made a fortune building mosques, royal palaces and government offices for the Saudi royal family, began to build "a multinational organization for jihad, to purge the world of Western corrupters and their Arab friends," the American official said. Jihad is the Arabic word for holy war. Bin Laden now funnels tens of millions of dollars a year through Islamic charities and banks to support terrorist groups and extremist political movements in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, the Sudan, Yemen, and other nations, the official said.
August 11, 1998 The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition
Last Friday's simultaneous bombings against U.S. Embassy buildings in Kenya and Tanzania are ample proof that the U.S. is facing a large, sophisticated terror network that most likely benefits from the assistance of a state. "We stand united against terrorism," President Clinton declared on Saturday. But unless that "stand" is accompanied by a willingness to retaliate, such words will only embolden terrorists and the states that give them support. ..... But no one should forget the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose rulers may not be so easily cowed as Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Iran has not felt the sting of U.S. retaliation since Mr. Reagan sank two-thirds of its navy in 1987 in response to Iranian attacks on civilian maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic regime still bears a grudge for the accidental U.S. shooting of an Iran Air jetliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988, which killed 200 Iranians. Tehran still believes the shooting was intentional. Despite the attention given to Iranian "moderates" and a thawing of U.S.-Iranian relations, it is plausible that Iran could be behind a terrorist attack on U.S. targets. Indeed, the bombings may be a deliberate attempt by Iran's radical clerics to reverse the thaw started by President Mohammed Khatami. Mr. Khatami has taken a courageous stance in favor of civil liberties and the rule of law, and is seeking Western investment and a rapprochement with the U.S. But he is being opposed every step of the way by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who retains control of the military, internal security, the intelligence services and the foreign terrorist apparatus. Mr. Khamenei and his allies are desperately seeking to frustrate a U.S.-Iranian dialogue, which they perceive as a threat to their own power.
Numerous Iranian defectors, including a former top-ranking intelligence operative known as Abolghassan Mesbahi, have provided Western intelligence services with detailed and strikingly similar accounts of how Iran uses non-Iranians to carry out terrorist operations around the world. Just two weeks before the twin embassy blasts, 22-year-old defector Ahmad Rezai, the son of former Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai, told me that Mr. Khamenei and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani had personally ordered terrorist attacks. One of the Iranian regime's goals, repeated publicly by officials at every opportunity, is to drive the U.S. from the Persian Gulf. According to Mr. Rezai, it was for this reason that hard-liners ordered the bombing of the Khobar Towers building in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, in 1996 that killed 19 U.S. servicemen. Mr. Rezai says that his father (who is still in Iran, and who told his son he fears for his life) provided him details of the bombing in the hope he would tell the story once he escaped. In the Dhahran bombing, Mr. Rezai alleges, the Iranian regime turned to Saudi and other Arab dissidents, including networks run by former Saudi financier Osama bin Laden.
Mr. bin Laden has a long history of anti-U.S. attacks. Trained in the 1980s as an anti-Soviet fighter in Afghanistan, Mr. bin Laden soon turned against the Saudi government and against its primary backer, the U.S., once American troops were stationed on Saudi soil to defend the kingdom against Saddam in 1991. An international investigation I conducted for Reader's Digest (published in July) uncovered evidence not only of Mr. bin Laden's involvement in the Dhahran bombing, but of at least eight attempts against U.S. and Saudi targets since then that were foiled by Saudi intelligence operatives. (Mr. bin Laden has denied direct involvement in the Dhahran bombing while applauding those who did it.) My investigation also uncovered convincing evidence that Mr. bin Laden financed the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, training master-bomber Ramzi Yousef and sending him on what he hoped would be a world-wide terror spree, from New York to Manila, and finally to Pakistan. This past February, Mr. bin Laden issued a religious order, or fatwa, telling his followers to carry out attacks against American civilians and military personnel wherever they could around the world. Mr. bin Laden commands a far-flung network of former Afghan fighters who have been involved in terrorist attacks and "liberation" struggles from Algeria to the Philippines. According to Ahmad Rezai, the Iranian government transmits orders and explosives to the bin Laden networks through high-level intelligence emissaries it dispatches to Syria. No orders are transmitted by telephone, for fear of U.S. communications intercepts. Saudi dissidents close to Mr. bin Laden told me that members of his networks were involved in the 1996 Dhahran bombing; some are still being held in a Saudi jail. When the Saudis threatened to execute them last year, the Clinton administration intervened, anxious to bring them to trial in the U.S. instead. U.S. and Saudi intelligence sources said that the sophisticated military timing device used in the Dhahran bomb was unequivocal evidence that Mr. bin Laden had not acted alone. "We have absolutely no doubt that Iran was ultimately behind the bombing," a senior Saudi source told me. But the Clinton administration does not want to hear evidence of Iranian terrorist activity. Intelligence information and warnings of Iranian terrorism have systematically been either ignored or overruled. On three separate occasions before TWA flight 800 went down off the Long Island coast in July 1996, the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration received explicit warnings that Iran was planning an attack against a U.S. airliner "originating in Athens, Greece." TWA 800 arrived in New York from Athens, before being refueled for its flight to Paris on July 17. Although one of the sources was "not deemed credible" by U.S. intelligence agencies, a second, independent warning was received of the impending attack. Just two weeks ago, a former U.S. Navy pilot, William Donaldson, released a 96-page report on the TWA crash, pointing to a foreign terrorist attack. Although Mr. Donaldson's conclusion was widely criticized before he released his report, former National Transportation Safety Board member Vernon L. Grose said that listening to Mr. Donaldson "changes my mind" about the crash. Mr. Donaldson cited new evidence he said proved the plane was hit by two shoulder-fired missiles, probably launched from small boats off the Long Island coast. (Note from M. Hull - Cdmr. Donaldson cited evidence for two missiles but not shoulder-fired units. A link to the report is provided in the index to this website.) There is a pattern here. Time and time again, when the U.S. is attacked, the Clinton administration has instructed the FBI to pursue a forensic investigation aimed at making a criminal case in the U.S. courts--a standard of evidence and public disclosure that goes way beyond the type of proof needed for effective foreign policy or national defense. Terrorism is a criminal act, and the courts are an appropriate venue for justice. But terrorism sponsored by a foreign government is also an act of war. If solid evidence this time points to Iran, its government must pay a high price.
August 13, 1998 NY Times
In the war between the United States and terrorists since the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, the score is grim. Today it stands: Americans killed in bombings and hijackings in the Middle East and Africa -- 307. Terrorists convicted for those crimes by American courts, a bare handful. .... The complexity and sophistication of foreign terrorist organizations is increasing, present and former intelligence officials say. The audacious timing and logistical skill required in the bombings last week -- one group fomenting two nearly simultaneous attacks more than 300 miles apart, killing at least 257 people and leaving no clear trace -- was breathtaking to veterans of the war on terrorism. "Two at once is not twice as hard," said Milton Bearden, a retired senior CIA official who was the ranking officer for the agency in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sudan. "Two at once is 100 times as hard." .... On overseas investigations, the FBI and the CIA have to work together. But they began only recently to cooperate, after decades of mutual mistrust .... No one may ever know whether the bombings last week were supported by a state like Iraq, an intelligence service like Iran's or an individual like the exiled Saudi financier Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden has hailed such attacks in the past, financed terrorist groups from Egypt to Algeria to Afghanistan and sought to unify them under his banner, according to intelligence officials. "This in all likelihood was not state supported, and if it's not, 'Terror Inc.' is beginning to creep in," Bearden said. "Whether or not bin Laden was in on it there may be an emerging linkage between bin Laden, the Islamic Jihad guys and the Islamic Group out of Egypt. If so, these people are close to becoming a state unto themselves." All are suspects, American officials said. But following a trail from the rubble of the embassies to a command center in Baghdad, a clandestine cell in Tehran or a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan would be a long haul. ..... The investigation of the Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 19 airmen, is at a dead end. The FBI and the Saudi intelligence service would not share information. The bureau, which had never conducted an investigation in the kingdom, said the Saudis were uncooperative. The Saudis said the bureau was highhanded. .... The hunch that the Khobar Towers bombing was carried out by Saudi dissidents with the help of outsiders -- possibly Iran or bin Laden -- remains unproven. Suspicions that Iran has had a hidden hand in such bombings date from the start of the modern era of terrorism against American diplomatic and military posts, the bombing of the Beirut Embassy in April 1983. That explosion damaged the CIA's ability to understand, infiltrate and nullify Islamic terrorism. The bomb destroyed the agency's Beirut station, killing seven officers, among them Robert Ames, the top Mideast analyst. He had been the chief of the clandestine service in the Arab world and a covert agent in Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait and Yemen. Ten years before the bombing, he had won the trust of Ali Hassan Salemeh, the security chief of Al Fatah, then one of the most feared terrorist organizations. Salemeh provided the CIA with warning of the assassination plots of radical Palestinian groups and helped the agency obtain agents in Islamic political and guerrilla organizations, former intelligence officials said. In 1979, Salemeh was killed by a car bomb, probably by the Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service. ..... Until recently, another problem in terrorist investigations outside the United States was a deep friction between the CIA and the FBI. "The CIA and the FBI did not cooperate as well as they ought to," Jeffrey Smith, a former general counsel at the intelligence agency, said. "They did not share information. They frankly were suspicious of each other." In 1996, Smith said, the bureau and the agency confronted the fact that they were like the Army and the Navy during the invasion of Grenada. He used the image that could not communicate because their radios operated on different frequencies. They came from different cultures. A law-enforcement officer who is confronting an evildoer wants to string him up. An intelligence officer wants to string him along, to find out what he knows and where that knowledge might lead. To overcome that clash, "we got senior CIA people from Europe and the Middle East together with senior people from the FBI" for a three-day meeting two years ago in Rome, Smith said. "They asked each other, 'How do you handle the joint takedown of the terrorist organization? Do you do this for purposes of prosecution or for purposes of penetration?' It was the first time these conversations had occurred, and when it was over the deputy director of the FBI said, 'We should have done this 40 years ago."'
August 14, 1998 New York Times
While investigators pawing through the wreckage of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam have yet to find physical evidence that would point toward the bombers, suspicion in the intelligence community has centered on Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is a multimillionaire Saudi Arabian businessman who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union and has created a worldwide network of Islamic terrorists. Bin Laden, intelligence officials and Middle East experts say, is the most prominent suspect because he has publicly threatened to strike at Americans throughout the world and because he has assembled a pan-Islamic coalition of seasoned terrorists and guerrilla fighters with the sophistication, logistics and the motivation to carry out the almost simultaneous attacks. "Speculation centers on Osama for number of reasons," the former director of counterterrorism at the CIA, Vincent Cannistrano, said. "He has formed a coalition of anti-American forces, the International Islamic Front for Holy War Against the Jews and Crusaders, and associated with it the Egyptian Islamic Jihad." "He's a man with a mission," said a United States aide who insisted on anonymity. "He's got a financial empire. He's got an international organization. He is a state unto himself."
Bin Laden issued a fatwa, or religious edict, in February that other groups and militant members of the Islamic clergy also signed. The edict called for guerrilla attacks against U.S. military and civilian targets around the world to force a "retreat" from Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia. "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military," the statement said, "is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate Al Aksa Mosque and the Holy Mosque from their grip," referring to main mosques in Jerusalem and Mecca. The edict was printed in the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi in London. In June, bin Laden announced at a news conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, his International Front for Islamic Holy War Against the Jews and Crusaders. The group, Cannistrano said, consists largely of "Afghani Arabs," Moslems from other countries, mostly from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and North Africa, who had joined the fight against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Cannistrano added that the groups included the Egyptian Islamic Gama'at, or "gathering," and Islamic Jihad, which was responsible for attacks on government officials and foreign tourists. A communique that took responsibility for the bombings came from a previously unknown group, the Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Sanctuaries, which said it would "pursue U.S. forces" until its demands had been satisfied. First among the demands in the communique was "the withdrawal of U.S. and Western forces from Moslem countries in general and from the Arabian Peninsula in particular."
The stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia has been bin Laden's main focus, and the issue figures prominently and repeatedly in his pronouncements. He is also a suspect in two bombings in Saudi Arabia that killed 23 Americans who were members of the armed forces. The date of the African bombings, Aug. 7, was the day in 1990 when King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President George Bush announced that U.S. troops would go to the kingdom to counter the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Bin Laden's statements have also included frequent references to what he considers the defilement of the main Islamic sanctuaries in Mecca and Jerusalem. In an interview in late May with ABC News in his hideaway in Afghanistan, bin Laden repeatedly returned to the American military presence in Saudi Arabia, as well as mentioning his new coalition. "Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all nonbelievers and especially the Arabian Peninsula, where the Ka'ba is," he said. "We must use such punishment to keep your evil away from Muslims, Muslim children and women. We believe the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is to use similar means."
Headquartered now under the protection of the Taliban in the war-ruined Afghan city of Kandahar, he has repeatedly vowed to strike at American centers in the Middle East. In a letter published last year he said, "The infidels must be thrown out of the Arabian Peninsula."
He started fighting alongside the mujahedeen rebels, whom the CIA sponsored in Afghanistan. A Saudi intelligence official who insisted on anonymity said bin Laden was a skilled executive who had set up bank accounts and financial organizations in Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan as fronts to channel money to his fighters. "Mr. bin Laden .... learned a lot of tricks from the CIA, which was glad to help him fight the Russians. We all helped him. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States were united in the view that the Russians must be defeated. He was a point man."
The executive editor of Al-Quds, Abdelbari Atwan, wrote on Nov. 22, 1996, in the paper that the most striking aspect of a long interview that he had with bin Laden was the hostility that bin Laden harbored for America, which he described as Israel's mentor. Bin Laden, Atwan said, perceives the Americans as occupiers and has called many times for their expulsion from the Middle East, inviting the faithful to fight and kill them. The editor was equally impressed with the high-technology cave hideout used for the interview. The cave reportedly had electric generators, a satellite dish for worldwide telephone calls, a computer, a database and a fine library of Islamic and political literature. Cannistrano also noted the sophistication the operation. "They are very smart," he said. "They use cyphered messages to communicate. They rent space on a satellite to send their propaganda."
Among the Islamic militants gathered around bin Laden in Afghanistan, Cannistrano and other experts said, were Ahmad Rifi Taha, leader of the Egyptian Gama'at, which killed foreign tourists at Luxor, and Ayman al-Zawahry, a leader of the Egyptian Jihad. The Middle East expert for the Congressional Research Service, Ken Katzman, who prepares on annual terrorism survey, said that last year bin Laden rated only a mention, but that in the draft for this year he had "a whole section." Bin Laden sends tens of millions of dollars a year, intelligence analysts say, to terrorist organizations, militant groups and extremist movements based in places like Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, the Philippines, Sudan and Yemen. Born around 1957 the son of a construction magnate who made a fortune as oil wealth and ostentation poured into Saudi Arabia, bin Laden spent much of the '80s traveling to Peshawar, the Afghan rebels' center, and Afghanistan. He dispensed millions of dollars of aid to the rebels and was a leader of the more than 10,000 Arabs who went to fight with their Moslem brethren.
August 15, 1998 New York Times
Law enforcement officials said Saturday night that American investigators in Pakistan were preparing to fly to Kenya with a man whom they identified as a suspect in last week's embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The officials said that the investigators had been sent to Pakistan to question several people who had been arrested there in connection with the bombings. They would not identify the suspect. The people under arrest are suspected of being associated with Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born businessman who has vowed to wage a holy war against the United States. .... The officials declined to specify the nature of the evidence connecting Mr. Bin Laden to the bombings. But today's issue of Newsday reported that a witness had identified a Bin Laden associate as having been in the truck carrying the bomb that damaged the United States Embassy in the capital of Kenya and killed more than 200 people. ..... In interviews today, intelligence and law enforcement officials who spoke on condition that they not be identified said there had been no positive identification of the person, who was described as a relatively low-level member of Mr. Bin Laden's circle. It was not clear if he was the person being taken to Kenya. But officials indicated that this was the first potential link to Mr. Bin Laden, whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency have suspected from the start was a key figure in the bombing plot. .... Another group suspected by the United States is the Cairo-based Islamic Jihad, but it, too, is financed by Mr. Bin Laden, American officials said. .... Law enforcement officials said Mr. Bin Laden had become the subject of an intense internal discussion at the F.B.I. over whether the New York office should take jurisdiction of the bombing case away from the Washington field office, which has jurisdiction over crimes against Americans in Africa. F.B.I. officials in New York have argued that they have investigated Mr. Bin Laden in connection with the World Trade Center bombing, and therefore should take over the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam cases in the event that he proves to be involved.
August 16, 1998 New York Times Op-Ed by Robert M. Gates
..... what then is to be done about terrorism? There is certainly no shortage of opinions on this score. Some of the advice is wise counsel, and some of it is nonsense. I would count as nonsense suggestions from various quarters in recent days that we lift the ban on assassinating our enemies. ... the great deficiency in American counterterrorism efforts in the summer of 1998 is not strictures against assassination, nor inadequacies in intelligence and law enforcement. The deficiency is political and strategic. It is in the perpetuation of myth and deception and spin by both the executive and legislative branches of our government, by both political parties, who seem unable to level with the American people. Here are some realities the Government does not acknowledge. Most of our counterterrorism successes are against loners (like the gunman who killed two people outside the C.I.A.'s headquarters in 1993) or against foot soldiers of larger terrorist organizations. Our failures -- for example, to get the Pan Am 103 bombers out of Libya to stand trial, or to get more information out of the Saudi Government about the 1995 and 1996 bombings -- are the result of conscious but unspoken Government decisions about political priorities. To get the Pan Am 103 bombers out of Libya would require an ultimatum to the Libyan Government that the two be turned over to a court in England or Scotland within a short time or our military would, step by step, day by day, turn Libya's military establishment and then its oil industry into a smoldering ruin. Of course, we would be alone, acting unilaterally, and in the face of near-unanimous international obloquy. Getting the Saudis to tell us what they probably know about foreign responsibility for the bombings in Riyadh and Dhahran would require playing very high economic, political and security cards -- a massive use of leverage -- that would have longlasting and negative consequences for the American-Saudi relationship and our presence in the Persian Gulf. In both cases, our Government, perhaps wisely, has chosen not to act in such a blunt manner. So, the first reality about our counterterrorism policy is that we face conflicting national priorities. The politically difficult and, indeed, unspeakable issue is whether the level of American casualties from terrorism is acceptable to our Government compared with the political, security and economic consequences of a far more militant approach to dealing with terrorism. .... No political or economic sanctions would work. Only violence. Only alone. And only if we can figure out how and against whom to retaliate. .... There is no quick, clean or conclusive end to retribution against terrorists. The war is the quintessential "long, twilight struggle," with limited casualties on the terrorists' side, occasional appalling casualties on our side, and countless victims caught in between .... The painful question facing the American people and the American Government today -- as in the mid-1980's -- is whether to make a war against terrorism our highest priority in foreign policy. A war in which broader American political, economic and security interests would be sacrificed to our own jihad, or holy war, against terrorists. .... we can pursue policies and strategies that in the long term weaken terrorism's roots. We can pursue a peace in the Middle East that does not kowtow to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's obstructionism and betrayal of Yitzhak Rabin's legacy. We can carefully pursue a nascent dialogue with President Mohammad Khatami of Iran and not play into the hands of his militant domestic adversaries (who may see terrorism against us as hitting two birds with one stone). We can promote human rights and political freedom in the Middle East ..... This mix of force and diplomacy, this reliance on patience and planning, the painful realization of more casualties to come, is not satisfying emotionally. It does not quench the thirst for revenge or justice; it does not offer beguilingly simple answers to complex problems and difficult choices. In reality, though, it is the only sustainable course. But even this approach to dealing with terrorism cannot be sustained absent a broader American strategy for dealing with the world beyond our borders. .... It has required courageous and farsighted leadership in Washington -- above all from the President, but with Congressional support -- to persuade Americans of the need to lead and to protect our interests around the world, even knowing that the cost in blood and treasure may at times be high. Such leadership has been sadly lacking in recent years at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Terrorism against Americans will be a fixture of our world for a long time. .... Real leadership -- Republican and Democratic -- would speak honestly to the American people, without spin or cant or partisanship, about the realities of a world we dominate but do not control.
August 26 1998 NY Times
Federal authorities said on Tuesday that a sealed indictment had been returned by a grand jury in New York against Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born multimillionaire who has possible ties to the deadly bombings earlier this month in Kenya and Tanzania. Confirming news accounts, the officials said that the indictment charging bin Laden with committing terrorist crimes had been returned under seal before the embassy bombings on Aug. 7. The indictment was first reported by the Wall Street Journal this week. The indictment has a negligible practical impact on bin Laden because, the officials acknowledged, that they have little hope of arresting or returning him from Afghanistan. Moreover, the missile attacks last week on his training bases in Afghanistan indicates that the United States regards him as a problem subject to military action rather than as a fugitive to brought to justice. The federal officials would not confirm the precise charges outlined in the indictment against bin Laden. But they said he has been the subject of scrutiny by the FBI since the World Trade Center bombing in Manhattan in February 1993. A total of six people have been convicted of charges related to that plot, among them Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted of inciting the plot. A federal grand jury in New York has been investigating further links between bin Laden and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was convicted as the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing and of a conspiracy to bomb American passenger airlines in the Far East (a plot that was not carried out.) The authorities' interest in bin Laden's suspected terrorist activities intensified after the still-unsolved June 1996 bombing at Al Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in which 19 American airmen died. But the officials said that prosecutors began to present evidence to the grand jury in New York about a year ago, adding that the indictment was returned in recent months. American officials said they have compelling intelligence information pointing to bin Laden's role as a spiritual and financial figure behind a variety of terrorist acts. He has publicly claimed responsibility for efforts to kill American servicemen in Somalia in 1993 and in Yemen a year earlier. U.S. officials said they also had convincing information of bin Laden's role in the Kenya and Tanzania bombings. That information is believed to include intercepted communications among bin Laden and his associates, but the officials have never disclosed the content of those communications.
August 26, 1998 International News Electronic Telegraph
Followers of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist accused of the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, twice plotted to assassinate President Clinton, it was disclosed yesterday. Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted of the World Trade Centre bombing in 1993, is said by US government sources familiar with his testimony to have confessed to a plot to kill the President when he visited the Philippines in 1994. Yousef planned to use a missile or road bomb, but security was too tight. ..... Sources said there was to be a second assassination attempt during a visit by Mr Clinton to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, last February. The trip was called off.
September 1, 1998 Newsday
The FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board must turn over witness statements and other documents from the probe into the crash of TWA Flight 800 to the plane's manufacturer and to lawyers for the victims' families, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan signed the order last week at the request of lawyers for the plane's manufacturer, Boeing, according to attorneys familiar with the ruling. Rakoff's ruling comes months after the FBI voluntarily agreed to turn over the statements to the NTSB, said Frank Granito III, whose Manhattan law firm represents about 55 of the 230 victims' families. The statements outline in vivid detail what hundreds of people said they saw on the night of the crash. Many said they saw a streak of light going toward the plane, which led some to believe at the time that the plane had been shot down by a missile. The FBI subsequently ruled out a missile or other forms of sabotage as causes of the crash, and the NTSB believes that vapors in the plane's nearly empty center fuel tank caused the explosion. The request for the witness statements was initially made at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in December, when Boeing subpoenaed the Justice Department for the information shortly after public hearings into the disaster, which occurred off the coast of Long Island on July 17, 1996. Most of the families of the victims have filed lawsuits against the plane's manufacturer and against TWA, claiming that a mechanical defect led to the plane's center fuel tank explosion. Joe Valiquette, a spokesman for the FBI's New York office, did not return phone calls last night seeking comment on the order. Granito said the FBI will provide the information to families' attorneys but will be allowed to withhold names and addresses of witnesses, hundreds of whom were interviewed after the crash. But he criticized Boeing for seeking the eyewitness information, charging the plane manufacturer with ''trying to keep the missile theory alive, even though it has no substance.'' A Boeing spokesman reached last night said he had no knowledge of the order and could not comment on it. But Russ Young, the spokesman, said, ''We just want to have access to all the information available regarding the crash".
September 2, 1998 11 Jumaada al-awal 1419 A.H.
A flotilla of coast guard and fishing boats searching in the darkness early today found only bodies and human remains from a Swissair jetliner that crashed off Nova Scotia. The Geneva-bound Flight 111 had 229 people aboard when the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and attempted an emergency landing Wednesday night at Halifax International Airport .... "About 30 miles south of the airport, the aircraft disappeared from radar screens," Tschanz said at a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland. ....In Atlanta, Delta spokesman Bill Berry said the "best information available'' was that 53 Delta passengers were on the flight, which the two airlines shared in a partnership. The plane left New York's Kennedy International Airport at 8:17 p.m. EDT with 215 passengers -- including two infants -- and 14 crew .... Before the plane went down slightly more than an hour later, residents said they heard loud sputtering noises from an aircraft passing overhead before a thunderous crash. ... "The motors were still going, but it was the worst-sounding deep groan that I've ever heard," witness Claudia Zinck-Gilroy said about the plane. .... The three-engine plane dumped fuel over nearby St. Margaret's Bay before crashing .... Debris believed to be from the aircraft was found off Clam Island between Peggys Cove and Blandford, about 20 miles southwest of Halifax.... It was the first crash of a Swissair plane since Oct. 7, 1979, when one of its DC-8s overshot the runway in Athens, Greece, while attempting to land and burst into flames. Fourteen people were killed. Speaking to reporters at the Geneva airport, Georges Schorderet, the chief financial officer of parent company SAirGroup, said the plane was put into service in August 1991 and was overhauled in August and September last year. It had been checked as all are before takeoff, he added. "This airplane was in perfect working order," Schorderet said.
September 5, 1998 The Hindu Online
A Saudi Arabian prince was among those killed in the Swissair plane crash off Canada. The English-language Saudi Gazette quoted a Swissair source confirming that Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Saad Abdul Rahman al-Saud was among the 229 passengers and crew killed when the plane plunged into the Atlantic near Nova Scotia on Wednesday. Prince Bandar, 45, a former Saudi Air Force pilot, was on his way to visit his father who was receiving treatment in Switzerland.
September 6, 1998 NY Times
U.S. intelligence officials drew up secret plans last spring for a covert raid to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, according to senior U.S. government officials. The officials said the planning began after U.S. military, intelligence and law-enforcement officials concluded they had ample evidence linking bin Laden to a series of anti-American terrorist attacks in recent years. The plan, developed by the CIA and U.S. special forces months before the August bombings of two U.S. embassies, called for U.S. forces to extricate the Saudi millionaire from his hideout in Afghanistan and bring him to justice in the United States. White House officials were aware of the mission, which was ultimately shelved by the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, and other senior officials because of the high risks involved. Those included the potential for many casualties among Americans and innocent Afghans. .... The cruise missile strikes against Afghanistan and the Sudan were a much lower risk operation than the proposed raid against bin Laden and did not result in any American casualties. But it also did not bring bin Laden to heel. Administration officials said that while some other terrorists were killed in the Afghan strike, bin Laden escaped unscathed. .... Now said to be in his early 40s, bin Laden, an Islamic radical and exiled scion of an influential and enormously wealthy Saudi family, was an ally of the United States in the 1980s as a supporter of the CIA-backed Afghan rebels battling the Soviet occupying forces. He used his wealth to contribute millions of dollars to the rebels' ultimate triumph and is said to have helped recruit and support thousands of other Arab volunteers who joined the Afghan cause. "Back then, we thought of him as that nice Saudi businessman who was supporting the rebels," said a former CIA official involved in the agency's Afghan program. But after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia and began to support militant Islamic groups that opposed moderate Arab regimes. Finally, he turned completely against the United States with the onset of the Persian Gulf crisis after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He saw the presence of hundreds of thousands of U.S. and other foreign troops on Saudi soil as a deep religious affront -- the return of barbarian Crusaders to defile Islam's holy places. He vowed to wage war against the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi leaders who had brought them into the country. American officials now say they believe that it was not a coincidence that the two embassy bombings in Africa occurred Aug. 7. Eight years earlier on that date, the first U.S. forces landed in Saudi Arabia as part of the effort to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. U.S. officials now believe that bin Laden began his anti-American terror campaign soon after the end of the Persian Gulf war, ultimately emerging as the leading individual sponsor of anti-American terrorism. After being forced out of Saudi Arabia, bin Laden moved to Sudan, where he invested in a wide array of businesses and became a close ally of Hassan Turabi, leader of the Sudan's governing party, who provided state support for bin Laden's terrorism. With an inherited fortune estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, bin Laden created a series of front organizations that provided the financing and the cover for networks of terrorist operatives. He supported terrorists in Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, the Sudan, Lebanon and the Philippines. American analysts say they have linked bin Laden and his network to a wide array of successful terrorist acts as well as aborted plots, ranging from plans to kill Pope John Paul II and Clinton during visits to Manila to the botched bombing in December 1992 of a hotel in Yemen where U.S. soldiers bound for Somalia were staying, a 1995 attempt to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a 1995 car bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that killed five U.S. soldiers. By the mid-1990s, as other terrorist groups began to fade away and American experts began to understand bin Laden's significance, the United States made his group a major focus of its counterterrorism efforts. As early as 1993, in fact, federal officials say, bin Laden had become the subject of FBI scrutiny after the New York World Trade Center bombing. In 1995, a back-channel meeting was held between U.S. and Sudanese officials in Europe, during which the U.S. officials warned the Sudanese that evicting bin Laden was one of several preconditions their government would have to meet before gaining international legitimacy. A year later, bin Laden left the Sudan for Afghanistan, but U.S. officials insist that Sudanese leaders never severed their ties to him. By 1996, bin Laden had emerged as the leading target of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, the government's central clearinghouse for intelligence on terrorists. He was named in a secret presidential covert action order on terrorism signed by Clinton that authorized intelligence agencies to plan and carry out covert operations that might lead to some deaths. U.S. officials are barred by executive order from planning an assassination. But a "lethal" presidential order, or finding, is a recognition that the action contemplated could lead to some of those involved being killed. Such a finding would permit bin Laden's inadvertent death in a military operation against his network. To track his activities, the National Security Agency's eavesdropping satellites were used to listen in on conversations of his operatives throughout the world, while spy satellites that take photographs from space allowed CIA analysts to monitor his training camps. With so many intelligence resources targeted against bin Laden, CIA analysts were able to determine that in January, he held a meeting with leading members of his network to prepare for a new wave of terrorism. He soon publicly announced his intentions when he issued a "fatwa" or edict, calling on Muslims to kill Americans. "There were reams of intel documenting bin Laden before," the embassy bombings in East Africa, a U.S. official said. Another official said, "We've had the book on this guy for a long time." At some point in this period -- officials declined to specify precisely when -- federal prosecutors in New York obtained a sealed indictment that charged him with terrorism crimes. In April, the chief U.S. delegate to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, traveled to Afghanistan and called on the Taliban, the fundamentalist movement that controls most of the country, to extradite him. The Taliban refused, and U.S. officials apparently abandoned diplomatic efforts to negotiate the handover of bin Laden. At the time of Richardson's talks with the Taliban, criminal charges had not yet been formally issued against bin Laden in the United States, but federal prosecutors in New York were already working on a criminal case against him, officials said. Federal prosecutors later did obtain a sealed indictment against bin Laden from a New York grand jury charging him with terrorist crimes. The indictment, returned in the months before the Aug. 7 embassy bombings in Africa, would have provided the legal basis for bin Laden's capture and arrest.
September 7, 1998 TODAY show Discussion of Swissair
MATT LAUER: Brenda Murphy saw the troubled plane right before it went down on Wednesday evening. Ms. Murphy, Good morning to you.
BRENDA MURPHY: Good morning.
MATT LAUER: I understand that you're used to hearing commercial and military flights pretty close to your house. What was it about the sound of this plane that caught your attention?
BRENDA MURPHY: Uh, the noises that the aircraft was making, uh, caught my attention.
MATT LAUER: And when you went outside to see what was exactly making those noises, what did you see?
BRENDA MURPHY: I saw the aircraft from the left wing back aglow, some type of which - of reflection that uh, made me focus more toward the front of the plane to see if there was any other problems.
MATT LAUER: Wasn't there also, according to your report, a blueish glow just in front of the wing?
BRENDA MURPHY: Yes, that's correct.
MATT LAUER: Can you describe that in further detail, what do you think that was?
BRENDA MURPHY: At the time, I thought it was a blue flame coming - coming from in front of the left wing of the aircraft.
MATT LAUER: Did you actually see the plane hit the water?
BRENDA MURPHY: No, I didn't.
MATT LAUER: What did you hear though when the plane hit the water?
BRENDA MURPHY: Uh, just one big bang and an eerie silence.
September 18, 1998 The New York Times
Federal authorities charged on Thursday that the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya last month was orchestrated by an Islamic extremist from the island nation of Comoros who reported directly to Osama bin Laden .... the government offered a $2 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Haroun Fazil ..... Federal officials also said they had arrested a man whom they described as the former personal secretary to bin Laden when both men lived in the Sudan in 1994. The defendant, Wadih el Hage, of Arlington, Texas, is the first American citizen known to have been charged in the investigation of bin Laden and the embassy attacks. El Hage appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan late on Thursday and was charged with three counts of making false statements to investigators. ..... A federal complaint unsealed on Thursday shows that el Hage was interviewed by the authorities in New York as early as September 1997, and questioned about bin Laden's activities and his associates. At the time, the complaint says, el Hage admitted to having worked as bin Laden's personal secretary, and also to knowing two of his top military commanders, identified as Abu Ubaidah al Banshiri and Abu Hafs el Masry. Al Banshiri drowned in a ferry accident in East Africa in 1996.... The federal complaint said that Fazil's duties in al Qaeda included the preparation of various reports for bin Laden and his top lieutenants. In the Kenyan bombing, Fazil was accused of renting the room in the Hilltop Hotel in Nairobi where investigators believe that the bomb was constructed, and of hiring two people to clean the room after the attack. ..... Prosecutors did not directly accuse el Hage of a role in the embassy bombings. But the documents say that Fazil and el Hage, the Texan, were close, and that the two shared a house last year in Nairobi. El Hage moved to Kenya from the Sudan in 1994, the government said, before returning to the United States in 1997. ..... Prosecutors said that el Hage is an American citizen. They said in court papers that el Hage had told investigators that he once worked in Kuwait, and studied city planning in Louisiana. The authorities said that after the August attacks, the Kenyan authorities, in the presence of FBI agents, searched a home in Nairobi, and seized files that included phone bills belonging to el Hage. They said they also found a receipt for an item which appeared to have been shipped to another defendant in the bombing case, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, who was arrested last month in Nairobi and flown to Manhattan to face charges. El Hage is the fourth suspect known to be held in Manhattan in connection with the investigation. Late last month, Odeh and Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali were charged with direct roles in the attack on the embassy in Nairobi. Last Friday, another suspect was charged in a sealed proceeding in Federal District Court, but his identity and nationality have not been disclosed.
September 22, 1998 The New York Times
A Texan was indicted Monday on new charges that he lied about his knowledge of the activities of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile suspected in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last month. In bringing the new charges against Wadih el Hage, who has admitted that he worked as bin Laden's personal secretary in Sudan in 1994, federal prosecutors in Manhattan offered their most expansive look yet at the scope and direction of their investigation into bin Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda. .... The authorities said for the first time that the investigation of the roles of bin Laden and Al Qaeda in international terrorism dates to 1996. By the fall of 1997, they said, the inquiry had expanded to include bin Laden's operations in about 20 countries, including the United States and reaching across the Middle East and into the former Soviet Union. The investigation is focusing in particular on the roles of Hage and two other aides in providing logistical support and training to people who attacked U.S. and U.N. forces in Somalia in 1993 and in early 1994. The indictment, which sketches the organization's command structure, suggests that federal investigators also suspect that Hage traveled to other countries to procure chemical weapons and their components on behalf of bin Laden. .... It was not possible to discern from Monday's indictment how much progress investigators have made toward solving the embassy bombings or tying bin Laden directly to the attacks. But one expert, Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs and terrorism at the Library of Congress, said that the indictment suggests that the federal grand jury investigation began earlier than had been widely known, and shows for the first time that the grand jury has been examining bin Laden's attempts to acquire chemical arms. The document also suggests that Hage, who has been working in an auto mechanic's shop in Fort Worth, Texas, was in the upper echelon of bin Laden's organization. The document asserts that when bin Laden's former military commander, Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, died in a ferry accident in Lake Victoria in 1996, Hage traveled to Lake Victoria to find out what had happened to him. The indictment charges that Hage lied to the grand jury when he denied making that trip to Lake Victoria and denied knowing that Banshiri had drowned. The indictment also identifies another man, Abu Hafs al-Masry, as bin Laden's "current military commander." His whereabouts are unknown.
September 24, 1998 The New York
A Texan who worked as a close aide to Osama bin Laden .... was ordered held without bond yesterday after the authorities accused him of buying firearms for a defendant convicted in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also asserted that the Texan, Wadih el Hage, was linked to El Sayyid Nosair, who was convicted on Federal charges in the death of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990 and convicted in 1995 of conspiracy in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks. The Government also said Mr. el Hage was connected to the disappearance and death of at least two other people in New York and Arizona in recent years. .... Mr. el Hage was charged with 11 counts of lying in the investigation into Mr. bin Laden and his organization, al Qaeda. In making the assertions a prosecutor offered few specifics, and added nothing to establish that Mr. el Hage had a direct role in the embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, in which more than 250 people died and hundreds were injured. The prosecutor did say Mr. el Hage was a close associate of two men accused in the bombing, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, who was arrested last month, and Haroun Fazil, a fugitive. As a result the allegations deepened the mystery surrounding Mr. el Hage, 38, who manages a tire shop in Fort Worth. ... Mr. el Hage, an American citizen, has emerged as a critical figure in the inquiry, and the charges may be a calculated attempt to put pressure on him to cooperate with the authorities. .... His lawyer, Bruce McIntyre, rejected the Government's assertions.... Mr. McIntyre said that Mr. bin Laden was someone who also had "legitimate commercial interests" and that Mr. el Hage had worked for Mr. bin Laden in connection with those interests, and "not his terrorist activities." ... An assistant United States attorney, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, depicted Mr. el Hage as an active international terrorist whose incentive would only be to flee. "The secret is out about his involvement with the group," Mr. Fitzpatrick said. "The organization knows how to extract people." Mr. Fitzpatrick told the magistrate that Mr. el Hage had been an extremely valuable associate of Mr. bin Laden because he had obtained his United States citizenship and was able to travel more freely than others in the bin Laden organization. Mr. Fitzgerald also told Magistrate Bernikow that Mr. el Hage was adept at obtaining illegal travel documents for other members of al Qaeda. The prosecutor added that in terrorist attacks on United States and United Nations forces in Somalia in 1993 and the 1994, Mr. el Hage "helped support some of those people with passports and the ability to travel." In linking Mr. el Hage to other cases of terrorism and murder, Mr. Fitzgerald offered little elaboration and did not suggest that Mr. el Hage was involved in the World Trade Center bombing or the other deaths. But he appeared to be raising questions about Mr. el Hage's associations. Mr. Fitzgerald said at one point that Mr. el Hage had "made an effort to obtain firearms" for Mahmoud Abouhalima, who was convicted in the World Trade Center bombing, in which six people died and hundreds were injured. Mr. Fitzgerald indicated, however, that after Mr. el Hage had bought the guns, Mr. Abouhalima never picked them up. Mr. Fitzgerald did not say when the purchases occurred or whether they were connected to the plot to blow up the Trade Center or any other conspiracy. In asserting that Mr. el Hage had contact with Mr. Nosair, the prosecutor offered no details about the nature or timing of such an association. Mr. Nosair was acquitted of the murder of Rabbi Kahane after a state trial in 1991. But he was convicted in the death on a Federal charge of murder in aid of racketeering in 1996. In 1995, Mr. Nosair was also convicted of seditious conspiracy, along with Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and other defendants, for plotting a series of bombings of landmarks in New York. Mr. Fitzgerald also suggested that the Government had evidence that indirectly tied Mr. el Hage to a mysterious death in 1991 in Brooklyn. He said that Mr. el Hage had gone to New York that year to direct the Alkifah Refugee Center. The center, based in Brooklyn, raised money and recruited and trained fighters in support of the rebels in the Afghan war. The day that Mr. el Hage arrived, Mr. Fitzgerald said, the man who had run the center, Mustafa Shalabi, disappeared. About a week later he was found slain. In a fourth case in the early 90's, Mr. Fitzgerald said, Mr. el Hage had helped a man who was conducting surveillance on a radical Islamic leader in Arizona. The leader was later slain, Mr. Fitzgerald said.
September 24, 1998 The New York Times
The British police arrested seven people Wednesday in a coordinated raid apparently aimed at associates of Osama bin Laden ..... A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard declined to name any of the suspects, but she said they had been detained as a result of "a carefully planned ongoing operation led by the Met's anti-terrorism branch." The Met is shorthand for London's Metropolitan Police Force. The Press Association, Britain's domestic news agency, said it was understood that the operation ... was aimed at associates of bin Laden, whom American officials suspect was the mastermind behind the embassy bombings, which killed more than 250 people. The arrests were made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1989, but it was not clear whether the police were operating under new liberties granted them to arrest people suspected of plotting terrorist acts elsewhere on British soil. Legislation expanding police power in such cases was passed here in August in an emergency session of parliament called by Prime Minister Tony Blair after the bombing in the town of Omagh, in Northern Ireland, that killed 29 people. Under those new laws, conspiring to commit terrorist crimes while in Britain is a punishable offense. The police said that the arrests were part of a joint operation between specialist Metropolitan police officers and agents from MI5, the domestic military intelligence arm that is the equivalent of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The police spokeswoman said that the seven men were picked up at separate addresses in West and Northwest London early Wednesday morning. An eighth address, described only as a "business premises," was also searched. It was believed that those arrested included a number of Egyptians and at least one Saudi. Agence France-Presse reported that one of those jailed was Adel Adbel Meguid Adbel Bari, who was sentenced to death in absentia for involvement in a bombing plot in Cairo in 1995. The news agency also quoted Omar Bakri Mohammed, who claims to be a spokesman here for bin Laden, as saying, "They belong to various Islamic movements, but some of them are linked to the International Islamic Front, Osama bin Laden's movement." London has been a haven for Arab dissidents, and several countries in the Middle East, as well as France, have complained that guerrilla groups are taking advantage of British law.(See London Bridge is Falling Down).... Asked whether the British agencies had been in touch with the FBI, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said, "As a matter of routine, the Metropolitan Police Service liases regularly with international law enforcement agencies."
September 26, 1998 The New York Times
Federal authorities charged Friday that a person described as a senior deputy to Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile suspected in last month's bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, made significant efforts on behalf of the bin Laden group in 1993 to develop nuclear weapons. ..... The allegations, concerning Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, also assert that bin Laden had an official agreement with the Iranian government and with Sudan's ruling party to oppose the United States, and suggested that the United States had penetrated the bin Laden organization and learned detailed information in 1996. The allegations were contained in newly unsealed court papers that charged that Salim with conspiracy to murder and to use weapons of mass destruction against Americans stationed outside the United States, including in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia. Salim was arrested in Germany last week after flying there from Sudan and the U.S. government said Friday that it would be seeking his extradition to face charges in Manhattan. The government also asserted for the first time in court papers that the Iranian government had entered into a formal three-way "working agreement" with bin Laden and the National Islamic Front of the Sudan to "work together against the United States, Israel and the West." The front is the ruling party in Sudan. Members of bin Laden's organization, al Qaeda, sent emissaries to Iran and some of its members received explosives training in Lebanon from Hezbollah, the terrorist group backed by the Iranian government, prosecutors said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The government also said that during the time when the working agreement was being negotiated, Salim met with an Iranian religious official stationed in Khartoum and also traveled with al Qaeda members to Tehran to arrange for training by Iran in the use of explosives. The allegations against Iran come at a sensitive time, since Tehran is currently trying to improve its relations with the West and is also at odds with the Taliban, the dominant group in Afghanistan, which is protecting bin Laden. .... In unsealing the charges against Salim, who was arrested near Munich on Sept. 15 and is being held in Germany pending his extradition, U.S. authorities showed that their investigation of bin Laden and al Qaeda continues to follow dual tracks. One is focused more narrowly on trying to solve the nearly simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7, in which more than 250 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured. Bin Laden's operatives in those countries are suspected in the attacks. The other track is directed at bin Laden's larger organization itself, and its role in other acts of terrorism, such as the attacks on United States and United Nations forces in Somalia in 1993 and early 1994, prosecutors have said. The authorities also acknowledged for the first time Friday that the FBI had won the secret cooperation of an admitted terrorist in al Qaeda as early as 1996, and obtained extensive information about the group from the asset, who was not identified. The source was described in court papers as someone who "was a member of al Qaeda for a number of years" and was "personally familiar" with bin Laden and Salim. The document said that the source "has admitted to participating in terrorist activity against American interests." .... The document does say that the information from the source was provided to the FBI in the late summer and fall of 1996, raising questions about how much the government knew about the bin Laden group in the months leading up to the bombings. ... The government complaint does reveal more extensively than ever before how much the authorities have learned about al Qaeda's history and command structure. The document says that bin Laden's group is highly organized, and includes a "majlis al shura" or consultation council, which discusses and approves all major undertakings, including terrorist operations.) The charges also said that al Qaeda had members who "made bayat" or swore their allegiance to the emir, or prince, of the organization, who is identified as bin Laden.
September 28, 1998 Electronic
Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile sought by the FBI for allegedly masterminding the bombing of two United States embassies in Africa, has used one of his top aides to try to procure nuclear weapons, according to American officials. Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, 40, was arrested in Munich last week at the behest of the FBI and CIA. German officials are eager to extradite him to New York. In a criminal complaint against him, federal authorities accuse him of plotting with bin Laden since 1992 to murder Americans and use weapons of mass destruction. Salim is described as having helped to found bin Laden's terrorist network, Al-Qaida. He was "particularly influential" with the leader, working as his senior deputy. He allegedly sat on the group's majlis al shura, a body that planned all terrorist operations and fatwas, death sentences against anyone found to have offended Islam. In late 1993, he agreed to a scheme in which the group would attempt to obtain enriched uranium "for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons". The US said that a document in federal hands related to a proposed purchase. It was sent to Salim for review. After reading the details, he indicated that the purchases should go ahead. Federal officials did not elaborate on whether the move was successful. The Americans claim that Salim was a key advocate within Al-Qaida for getting Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims to set aside age-old rivalries to join bin Laden in operations against America and Israel. He was also a main figure in negotiating an alliance with Iran, meeting Iranian religious officials in Khartoum and travelling to Teheran to arrange training for his operatives in bombing techniques at camps in Lebanon run by Hezbollah. ..... Intriguingly, the complaint discloses that the FBI had an informer in bin Laden's group as early as 1996. He was described as a member for "a number of years" and "personally familiar" with both the leader and Salim. This raises questions about how much Washington knew about bin Laden's activities before the bombings in Africa.
September 29, 1998 NY Times
A British court ordered a suspect held Monday pending extradition to the United States as part of the broadening investigation into Osama bin Laden .... The suspect, Khalid al Fawwaz, is believed to be the leader of bin Laden's organization in Britain .... Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, declined to give details about the complaint. But she said in a statement that al Fawwaz had been arrested on a warrant charging him with "conspiring with Mr. Bin Laden and others to murder United States nationals." .... The indictment also asserts for the first time that bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda, took its stand against the United States for, among other factors, "the arrest, conviction and imprisonment" of people belonging to "Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups, including Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman," the Egyptian clergyman who was convicted in 1995 in a plot to bomb landmarks in New York City. .... It was unclear whether al Fawwaz's extradition was sought in connection with the embassy attacks or as part of the broader investigation of bin Laden. A brief summary of the case offered by the British authorities said al Fawwaz's duties included transmitting bin Laden's fatwahs, or death sentences against people found to have offended Islam. The summary document said that in one case Fawwaz transmitted a fatwah that declared a holy war against American citizens. He was able to send it through an intermediary "to the eventual publisher and personally vouched for its authenticity," the document said, without supplying details. ... Al Fawwaz was described in The Times of London on Sunday as an executive and one-time close ally of bin Laden who ran the London office of a Saudi dissidents' group that bin Laden had founded. The newspaper said al Fawwaz was involved in monitoring the press and distributing communiques.