sitemap Threads From "The Hull Thread"

"Threads From The "Hull Thread"

These pearls of thought in Persian gulfs were bred, Each softly lucent as a rounded moon;
The diver Omar plucked them from their bed, Fitzgerald strung them on an English thread.

James Russell Lowell


Events in Brooklyn and the Ramsey Yousef trial in New York lead to the following linkages.


Where shall we start?     Let's start here:

July 17, 1996     TWA 800 downing.
Scott Holleran and his family who had missed the fatal TWA 800 flight arrived later at the TWA gate for their flight back to the U.S., and Scott told the crew who they were. "When one flight attendant heard that they were originally supposed to be on Flight 800, he brought a bottle of champagne. The flight attendant said: 'Look, this is what we think happened. Everyone at TWA thinks it was a missile.'"

July 19, 1996     ABC News Reports
Government sources were quoted as saying the explosion was a "deliberate criminal act", possibly an act of sabotage or the result of a hit by a "small missile". Again, quoting unnamed government sources, it was stated that infrared imagery from an orbiting satellite may have detected a missile fired at the aircraft.

Did anyone claim responsibility?
In the absence of explanations, theories abounded. One focused on a fax sent Wednesday to an Arabic language newspaper in Beirut warning of an attack. State Department and CIA officials confirmed they had received copies of the fax Thursday. The message said "tomorrow morning we will strike the Americans in a way they do not expect and it will be very surprising to them," according to one official. A counterterrorism source familiar with the fax said that it was sent at 11 a.m. New York time Wednesday, more than nine hours before the bombing. But a CIA source said that the agency "does not attach too much significance" to the fax.

July 19, 1996     Reuters
Attorney General Jane Reno said she was unaware of any threats before the crash but there were "some calls'' afterward claiming responsibility. ABC News reported that an Arabic newspaper received a warning of an attack on an American target Wednesday from the same group that claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed five Americans in Saudi Arabia in November. But the State Department said it had viewed the warning letter as a political tract and not as a specific threat of an extremist attack. "To us it seemed to be a general political tract. We don't see it as a specific threat,'' State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said of the letter sent to Al Hayat, an Arabic language newspaper published in London.

July 19, 1996     New York Times.
A specific warning about the flight had been sent by an extremist Saudi organization called the Movement of Islamic Change, the organization that claimed responsibility for blowing up US military personnel in Saudi Arabia last November. "Late this morning we got a copy of a letter in Arabic that we then had translated, and got it to the FBI" said a State Department spokesman ... "It's a ... statement that seems aimed at the Saudi regime or the American presence in Saudi Arabia"......... Officials said they were reviewing a telephone call placed to a Tampa, Florida television station yesterday morning from a man who identified himself as a member of a jihad and claimed responsibility for the crash.

May 7, 1999  Company Press Release   The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security International
NPR has not broadcast any in-depth story about the investigative findings and incriminating documents released by the FBI in its ongoing investigation into the secret headquarters of the Islamic Jihad that operated out of the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa between 1990 and 1995.

July 21, 1996     New York Times.
Officials of Al Hayat, a prominent Arabic-language newspaper, said they had received faxes in London and Washington early on Wednesday, warning of a planned attack on an American target. The letter was signed by a group identifying itself as the Movement of Islamic Change, the Jihad wing.

July 22, 1996     Aviation Week and Space Technology
Concerning a theory the 747 might have been brought down by a ....missile, White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry declared acidly, "There is no American official with half a brain who ought to be speculating on anything of that nature"......But a U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot, reportedly said he had seen what appeared to be the trail of a shoulder-fired SAM ending in a flash on the 747. (McCurry) also dismissed an Arabic tract received by the U.S. government the morning after the crash ... attributed to the Movement for Islamic Change and containing an apparent warning.

July 23, 1996    The London Times
The Tel Aviv paper Yediot Ahronot disclosed yesterday that Israel had been asked by the CIA to check the Athens-New York passenger list of TWA Flight 800. The involvement of Mossad, Israel's secret service, emerged after it was made known that the Israelis warned US Intelligence before the disaster that an American aircraft would be the target of "sabotage or hijacking" by Islamic extremists. "The American intelligence agency gave Mossad the passenger list of the TWA plane from Athens to New York and asked that it check the passengers' backgrounds to reveal if one of them had connections to a terror group," reported the paper, which has closelinks to the Israeli security services. .... Earlier this month, a Mossad officer monitoring Middle East terrorist groups passed an unspecific warning to his American counterpart in TelAviv. The officer said: "The threat of sabotage or a hijacking against an American plane was analysed and considered serious enough for us to pass on to the Americans. It was then up to the Americans to assess the dangers and decide whether to pass it on to their airlines."

TWA 800 is linked to bombings in Saudi Arabia?

Did the FBI see this link?

August 1, 1996     CNN
FBI chief (says) U.S. 'under attack' by terrorists. In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Freeh pointed to a series of arrests and convictions since four Islamic fundamentalists were found guilty in the February 1993 bombing that killed six people New York's World Trade Center. He referred to two fatal bombings in Saudi Arabia ..... and the still unexplained crash of TWA Flight 800.

The FBI did see that link!      And they also saw one to the World Trade Center.

What do we know about the bombings in Saudi Arabia?

June 27, 1996   The Telegraph    (U.K. Electronic Edition)     Issue 415
19 Americans killed by Dhahran base bomb. Suspicion for the bombing .... outside Dhahran was .. pointing towards internal enemies of the Saudi monarchy ... Middle East experts were last night discounting the most immediate theory that groups connected with Iran's fundamentalist regime were involved in the blast. More probable, they believe, is that the attack was an act of revenge ... for the execution .. of four men convicted of planting a bomb at another American military facility in Riyadh ... last November. That bomb killed five Americans and two Indians, and was meant as a protest for the continuing presence of more than 5,000 American troops in the land that is home to Islam's most sacred sites, Mecca and Medina ... the men acknowledged their involvement with the Saudi monarchy's most dangerous enemy, Osama bin Laden. Mr. bin Ladim, who hails from one of Saudi Arabia's richest and most prominent business families, was middle-man between the Saudi government and the Afghan mujahideen they supported in the 1980s. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, he and his followers became increasingly disenchanted with the Saudi government and turned against it. Expelled from Saudi Arabia three years ago, he has been living in Sudan, a country condemned by the West as a prime supporter of terrorism. Now, it is believed, he has been expelled from Sudan as well......Both the Saudi and American governments would prefer to believe that the bomb was the work of an Iran-backed group, but the likely reality is far more alarming.

Wow! Revenge!  And the FBI saw that angle too!

December 12, 1996    Associated Press
The new, more violent face of terrorism in the 1990s can be summed up in a single work - 'revenge' - an FBI assistant director (Kallstrom) said in a speech at a synagogue Tuesday.

October 5, 1999   The NY Times
The Iranian Government responded to Clinton with a letter in which it denied any involvement in the Khobar bombing, an Administration official said. In their letter, the Iranians noted that the American Government had never brought to justice the captain of the Vincennes, the American warship that shot down an Iranian passenger airliner by mistake in the 1980's.

Who was behind the Saudi bombings?

October 7, 1996     The Telegraph     (U.K. Electronic Edition)     Issue 502
Bombers fail to undermine the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia is waiting for its next bomb. Platoons of heavily armed soldiers ring the royal palaces in the capital, Riyadh; security guards cruise its opulent shopping centres, and the 5,000 American servicemen who are the focus of the terrorists' wrath are moving to a new impenetrable compound in the heart of the desert. ... From his exile in Afghanistan, the government's most feared enemy ... Osama bin Laden, has declared jihad, or holy war, against the foreign presence. Quietly, embassies and barracks are tightening security......Pessimists draw close parallels between Saudi Arabia and its neighbour Iran, where the Western-supported Shah was overthrown in 1979 by a broad-based Islamic revolution ......

Mr bin Laden?    Who assists him?

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 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. .... The authorities also acknowledged for the first time .... 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 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. ...

July 8, 1996     The Telegraph     (U.K. Electronic Edition)       Issue 422
Iran has developed an extensive network of training camps which are being used to train terrorists for operations around the world .....At least 11 camps have been established throughout the country ...... An estimated 5,000 volunteers pass through the camps each year, of whom about 500 are given extensive training in a wide range of terrorist skills......Although no direct link has yet been found to implicate Iran in the recent bomb attack against an American military complex at the Saudi Arabian eastern port of Dhahran, two Saudi dissident groups suspected of masterminding the attack ..... are based in Teheran. The Organisation of Islamic Revolution of Jezier al-Arab and the Hizbollah of the Hejaz, two groups that are outlawed in Saudi Arabia, are based in Teheran and work closely with Iran's intelligence ministry. A group calling itself "Hizbollah Gulf" claimed responsibility for the Dhahran bombing. Supporters of these Saudi groups are allowed to use the Imam Ali training camp in east Teheran. ... Intelligence experts believe many of Iran's overseas terrorist attacks are planned here. .. The Germans have been embarrassed by the discovery of a sophisticated mortar rocket system which was discovered on board an Iranian ship which had sailed from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to Hamburg.

Iran smuggles mortars?  Super ones!

January 12, 1997     Electronic Telegraph         Issue 597
Iran is planning a fresh wave of terrorist attacks throughout Europe using purpose-built "super-mortars"..... developed specially by Iran's Organisation of Military Industry for terrorist operations. The 320mm mortar, which can be dismantled and transported in lorries and is considerably more powerful than the conventional weapon ..... ........ Reports received by Western intelligence agencies suggest that Iran has dispatched 15 similar weapons to terror cells throughout Europe..... "The Iranians are keen to deploy their super-mortars throughout Europe"....Western intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring the activities of suspected Iranian terrorist cells in Europe after a prototype of the mortar weapon was discovered in an Iranian freighter ....... on docking in Antwerp last year. ... A team of international intelligence officials, including British and US technical experts, studied the mortar parts for several months and concluded they belonged to an exceptionally powerful weapon Iran has developed with terrorist operations in mind. American intelligence officials fear the weapon might be used to attack US bases in the Middle East. William Perry, the outgoing US Defence Secretary, ordered American military personnel in Saudi Arabia to relocate from Dhahran .... to a remote desert air base .... at the end of last year to increase their protection from the weapon. .... The launchers weigh more than half a ton, while the mortar rounds each contain more than 250lb of explosives. .... The Iranians were also embarrassed by the seizure of their prototype super-mortar by Belgian officials last year, especially as two senior Iranian intelligence officials were on board the freighter when it was searched in Antwerp.

January 19, 1997     The Telegraph     (U.K. Electronic Edition)     Issue 604
Syrian intelligence officers played a key role in last year's bombing of the American military base in Saudi Arabia in which 19 US servicemen died. This is one of the central conclusions that has been reached by two inquiries into the bombing conducted by American and Saudi officials ......... After the bombing, a key Saudi dissident suspect fled to Syria to seek sanctuary. But when Saudi investigators asked Syria to hand him over, the suspect was killed by Syrian intelligence to prevent him from disclosing details of Syria's involvement in the attack...........News of Syria's involvement has caused alarm in Washington. It is one reason why details of the lengthy inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which sent a team of specialists to Dhahran, have not been made public. ....... Iran provides training and support for numerous Arab terrorists, including two groups of Saudi dissidents which have been involved in previous attacks within the kingdom: the Organisation of Islamic Revolution of Jezier al-Arab, and the Hizbollah of the Hejez, both outlawed in Saudi Arabia. ....... the Saudis were put in contact with Osama bin Laden, a 40-year-old Islamic fundamentalist terrorist. bin Laden, who works for Iranian intelligence, is a fierce opponent of both the Saudi regime and America's presence in the Gulf. bin Laden had recently taken up residence in Peshawar, on Pakistan's north-west frontier, where he fought with the Muhajideen during the Afghan civil war............ Any doubts about bin Laden's involvement in the Dhahran attack were removed by an interview he gave in Peshawar shortly afterwards. The Saudi bombing, he said, "marked the beginning of war between Muslims and the United States".

Sophisticated mortar rocket systems were being smuggled into European countries!

Let's go back to the link with the World Trade Center.

February 26, 1993
World Trade Center bombed.

May 13, 1996     The Telegraph      (U.K. Electronic Edition)    Issue 382
Ramsey Yousef is .... accused of having designed ... the bomb that blew up in the World Trade Centre in 1993....His idea was to topple one of the twin towers onto the other..... perhaps 50,000 people would have perished. ...Yousef placed a bomb on a Philippines Airlines jet. Yousef .. was .. testing a method he intended using to destroy three US passenger planes at a later date. That plan, had it worked, would have killed about 700 civilians, dwarfing all previous terrorist outrages against air passengers. A fire at the flat where he lodged in Manila - possibly caused by nitroglycerine - led to a search by the Philippines police ....Yousef managed to escape, fleeing to Pakistan...... America should expect further attacks.

This Yousef sounds like a key figure.

What do we know about the airliners he intended to bomb?

December, 1994     TIME Magazine July 29, 1996
Ramsey Yousef tests his plan for attacking U.S. carriers by boarding a Philippine Airlines flight on the first leg from the Philippines to Japan. He carried with him the components of a bomb, unassembled in his carry-on bag. On board he assembled the bomb, which was made of gun cotton, a nitroglycerine solution packed into a contact-lens bottle. He tucked the bomb under a cushion and left the plane after its first stop in the Philippine city of Cebu. Two hours later the device exploded killing a passenger.

January, 1995
Muslim fundamentalists plan to destroy 12 American-owned Boeing 747s in a series of attacks ... during two days in January 1995. Had the plan succeeded, as many as 4,000 passengers would have perished.

February, 1995
Ramsey Yousef arrested by U.S. agents in Pakistan for plotting attack on U.S. airliners in the Pacific.

Mr. Yousef was arrested in Pakistan!

He couldn't be linked to Mr. bin Laden, could he?

July 17, 1997     New York Times
A Federal grand jury in Manhattan is investigating whether a renegade Saudi millionaire .... has been funneling money to terrorist groups in the United States.......Mr. bin Laden ... is believed to be living in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. An official ... said that the money had been delivered to groups in Detroit, Jersey City and Brooklyn ....He was ... linked to Ramzi Ahmed Yousef the three years before the attack on the Trade Center, Mr. Yousef lived in Pakistan in a house paid for by Mr. bin Laden, the State Department report said. .......Federal investigators have information that shows Islamic fundamentalist groups, consisting mostly of legal noncitizen immigrants from the Middle East, have received money from Mr. bin Laden. "the level of terrorist activity within the United States is really very low, ..... groups typically do not want to trigger the type of response that an attack in America would bring ..... Osama ... may not have the same constraint."

Can it be that Mr. bin Laden is linked to the July 1997 attempted bombings in Brooklyn?

July 31, 1997     Reuters
Israeli and Palestinian security forces today arrested alleged Muslim militants in ..raids following twin suicide attacks that killed 13 people in a market in .. Jerusalem a day earlier.

July 31, 1997     Reuters and CNN
Police found explosive devices in a raid on a New York apartment and arrested three men .. "The individuals involved are Middle Eastern ..." the mayor told reporters at the site of the discovery in ... Brooklyn. The raid resulted from a tip late Wednesday night from a man who said his "roommates want to follow up on Jerusalem," an apparent reference to the Jerusalem attack.

August 4, 1997
The FBI has linked two suspects in a Brooklyn suicide-bombing plot to the militant Mideast group Hamas. Palestinian security officials think the two suspects could be members of a new group, financed by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, which takes its orders from Hamas or another Islamist group.

But strangely the link was to disappear later ....

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. ..... 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."

Even though the two suspects claimed knowledge to another crime.....

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.

Mr. Valiquette may be "comfortable" but should he be if he knew about Yousef and the source of his money ....

August 4, 1997
Ramzi Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing ... will go on trial today ....prosecutors hope to finger Yousef as the mastermind of the WTC blast; another key concern is to uncover who financed him.

But surely the U.S. Government had figured this out?

July 15, 1997       CNN Web posted at: 6:05 p.m. EDT (2205 GMT)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating connections between a maverick Saudi Arabian multimillionaire and his followers in the United States, who may be planning terrorist attacks on U.S. targets. Federal agents have identified followers of Osama Bin Ladin in Brooklyn, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan, to determine whether they are preparing to carry out attacks, CNN has learned. Bin Ladin ..... has been linked to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia ....Now living among followers in Afghanistan, Bin Ladin ... has gone on record as being a bitter enemy of the United States. In an interview with CNN last month for the TV newsmagazine "Impact," Bin Ladin said, "We declared a Jihad -- a holy war -- against the United States government because it is unjust, criminal and tyrannical."....Federal sources say a grand jury is investigating Bin Ladin..... According to federal sources, agents investigating Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York began looking into the activities of Bin Ladin's followers in this country... ..In particular, agents have been tracing money transfers from Afghanistan and Pakistan ....  Bin Ladin's power base ..... through London to his followers in the United States....Bin Ladin communicates with his adherents though audiotapes, but he also spreads his fundamentalist beliefs through Web sites on the Internet. The FBI wants to know if Bin-Ladin is financing any religious or political activities in the United States. So far, sources say, Bin Ladin has not been linked to any illegal activities in this country, but the investigation continues.

Isn't the FBI doing something about this?

July 13, 1997      The Associated Press
FBI Director Louis Freeh finds the nation's skies safer and its law enforcement authorities better prepared for terrorism a year after TWA Flight 800 exploded......Since 1993, when Freeh took over, the FBI has quietly been improving its relationships abroad. Taking a global view of terrorism and the need to share information with other countries, Freeh has ...... added agents in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and other countries...

Oh, great!    Perhaps the government is planning something better?

April 20, 1997     The Telegraph     (U.K. Electronic Edition)     Issue 695
Hard-liners at the US Defense Department are pushing for a massive strike against Iran to punish the mullahs for their alleged role in the bombing of a US barracks in Saudi Arabia last year..... there is also strong pressure within the Pentagon for a broader attack to cripple the growing military power of the Islamic regime. Sources say that this would include a Pearl Harbor-style strike to annihilate the Iranian navy before it can become a threat to US naval operations in the Gulf, and heavy bombing raids to set back Iran's nuclear weapons programme. The Clinton administration has been weighing its options for several months, waiting to see whether there is conclusive evidence of Iranian involvement in the Khobar Towers bombing. But US intelligence has now linked a top official in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Brigadier Ahmad Sherifi, to a bombing suspect arrested in Canada last month. "Iran was the organizing force behind the attack," said a senior US official. ....Analysts argue that US policy provoked fury in Teheran and prompted a strategic decision by the Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani to launch a campaign of terrorism against the Great Satan. Bill Clinton now has to decide how far to ratchet up the cycle of escalation in the most dangerous and volatile region in the world. ......"The worst possible response would be a silly missile attack in the middle of the night that stirs up a hornet's nest without doing any real damage," says Ken Timmerman, editor of the Iran Brief in Washington. "If you are going to hit them, you've got to do it so hard they spend the next 10 years recovering." This view is widely shared at the Pentagon, which has watched with alarm as the Iranians acquired three Russian Kilo-class submarines with quiet diesel engines that are hard to detect. Iran has also been buying advanced C-802 cruise missiles from China which could pose a serious danger to US warships in the Gulf. Hard-liners see retaliation for the Khobar Towers bombing as an opportunity to deal with the Iranian military before it has the means to choke the Straits of Hormuz, the source of 12 million barrels of oil a day, a third of the industrial world's oil supply....... Military analysts are afraid that the Clinton policy of "dual containment" of both Iran and Iraq is becoming a dangerous fiction. Herb Meyer, former vice-chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, warns that Iran and Iraq may join forces to drive the US out of the Gulf and seize the Saudi oil fields, with consequences that are almost unthinkable. It is a nightmare waiting to happen .......

Maybe we could do something a little less drastic!

Perhaps a little quiet abduction of suspects?

June 25, 1997    MSANEWS Mohammad Jalal-Abadi - On behalf of Bangladeshi Muslim Literary Circle in Great Britain, 5 Bloomsfield House, Old Montague Street, London, E1 5PA . 
Agence France Presse quoting ABC reported from Islamabad that the American government paid a sum of $3.5m and used Pakistan military and intelligence as intermediaries while abducting Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani citizen from Pakistani soil and flew him to America. So far it is known Kansi has not committed any crime in Pakistani soil. There is no case pending against him in any Pakistani court nor the Pakistani authorities issued any arrest warrant for him. Moreover, there exists no extradition treaty between Pakistan and America. It is not known who is/are the recipient(s) of $3.5m which the American government paid for Kansi's abduction. ...... As an elected Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan did Mr Sharif know anything beforehand the abduction of this Pakistani national? ..... Stage is now set for the Mossad and its lackeys in the CIA to use Pakistani military intelligence and their "expertise" and the intermediaries to abduct Sheikh Osama bin Laden whom the Zionist entity and American State Department have declared 'world's number one terrorist'! .....Pakistanis who are accusing Mr Sharif of compromising national sovereignty and abandoning Islamic honour are not "Islamic terrorists" as claimed by the Zionist terrorists and their puppets in the White House.

Kansi - what did he do?

June 19, 1997     NY Times
Five FBI agents sneaked into a hostel in Afghanistan, where Afghan informants had told them they would find Mir Amal Kansi, one of the world's most wanted men, the suspect in a deadly 1993 rampage outside CIA headquarters. Kansi .... The breakthrough in the hunt for Kansi came about through the CIA's Near East division via the intelligence agency's station in Pakistan... cooperation followed some pressure brought to bear on Pakistan under a June 1995 presidential decision directive, a secret order in which the United States resolved to "induce cooperation" from foreign nations where suspected terrorists and criminals reside.

June 19, 1997     The Telegraph     (U.K. Electronic Edition)      Issue 755
CIA agents have captured the Pathan tribesman that they have been hunting for four years after he allegedly came to America from Pakistan to shoot two of their leading intelligence operatives. The murders were thought to be his revenge for the death of his father during the spy agency's 1980s covert operation to undermine the Soviets in Afghanistan. Mir Aimal Kansi, 33, was tracked down after America put a $2 million (£1.2 million) reward on his head. He was held by what officials described as "Afghan individuals". A CIA team working out of Peshawar, Pakistan, received information from the Afghans and the handover was supervised by .... an FBI official .... Kansi's father, Abdullah, was a prominent leader in Quetta, Pakistan, which was used by the CIA as a way-station for the shipment of arms to Afghan guerrillas. The father died after working undercover for America and Pakistan. Kansi .... fled to Pakistan. The FBI has wondered if he was connected to Ramsi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Centre bombing in New York, who escaped by the same route to Islamabad before disappearing a month later.

November 11, 1997      The New York Times
A Pakistani immigrant was convicted of murder Monday night for killing two CIA employees stuck in morning rush-hour traffic outside the intelligence agency's Virginia headquarters nearly five years ago.... Mir Amal Kansi, 33, faces a possible death sentence. .... Kansi was captured in June after a four-and-a-half-year search that reached from Washington's suburbs to the mountains of Afghanistan and to the deserts of Pakistan. He was the lone suspect in the killings from the moment he fled the United States after the shootings, which injured three other people on Jan. 25, 1993, outside the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters in Langley, Va. The search for Kansi took place "in the face of often overwhelming difficulties," said William Esposito, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A son of a relatively wealthy family from Quetta, a rugged city bordering Afghanistan, he had eluded an international manhunt that took FBI agents into the lawless Afghan borderlands. His motive, as best it could be determined, was anger at American foreign policy in the Middle East. He was especially furious over the Persian Gulf war and the treatment of Palestinians by Israel, said Special Agent Bradley Garrett of the FBI, who helped arrest Kansi at a cheap hotel in Pakistan and testified against him last week. Kansi, whose surname is also spelled Kasi, gave a detailed confession to the FBI team as they flew to the United States from Pakistan, Garrett testified. Kansi said he believed that the United States and the CIA had too much power over Islamic nations like Pakistan. His hometown was a base for a $3-billion CIA paramilitary operation that was designed to arm the Afghan guerrillas who were fighting off Soviet occupiers during the 1980s. Garrett said Kansi told him he chose the CIA headquarters as a target to "convey a message to the United States." ..... He was tried under Virginia law, not federal terrorist statutes. Legally speaking, because Kansi appeared to have acted alone, and not as part of a terrorist group, it was a simple case of murder.

Revenge was swift! 

November 12, 1997     Associated Press
Four American businessmen and a Pakistani are dead today after gunmen ran their car off a road in Karachi and riddled it with bullets. Police say they've launched a manhunt for the attackers. The Americans were auditors for the Houston-based oil company, Union Texas Petroleum. The company says it is evacuating all of its 30 personnel in the country immediately. The shooting comes two days after a Virginia jury convicted a Pakistani man of killing two CIA employees. The State Department has warned Americans in Pakistan and elsewhere to be wary of possible retaliatory attacks. 

Isn't Pakistan the place where bin Laden lived?
.... bin Laden resided in Peshawar, on Pakistan's north-west frontier, where he fought with the Muhajideen during the Afghan civil war. He lives now with his three wives at Hadda in Afghanistan, beyond the reach of the West and under the protection of the Taliban.

And didn't we leave some weaponry behind there after the Afghan war?

November 3, 1996 The Electronic Telegraph.
A race between terrorists and the Western powers for control of a huge cache of missiles is underway in the arms bazaars of Afghanistan. The hunt, that has pitched the resources of intelligence services against terrorist groups and pariah states, is for an arsenal of shoulder-launched Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The weapons were sent into Afghanistan by the CIA during the Soviet occupation and were a key factor in tipping the balance of firepower against the Red Army. Now the West fears that, if they fall into the wrong hands, the Stingers could .... prove devastating if used by terror groups against civilian aviation. ..... The CIA has spent more than £70 million in a belated and often bungled operation to buy back the missiles. As a result, the weapons are fetching up to £200,000 each on the Afghan black market - 10 times their official "retail" price - and have proved lucrative investments for their current owners, a mixture of warlords, black marketeers and drug barons. .... There is evidence that Afghan military commanders have been only too eager to sell them to embassies in Kabul such as ... the Iranians'. The ... pariah states are believed to have bought 40. .... "The Stinger is a status symbol weapon and would be a significant weapon for any terrorist group," said Damon Bristow of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies. "With little training it can bring down any aircraft. The CIA has botched its shopping trip in Afghanistan." When the CIA first sent covert shipments of missiles to Afghanistan through Pakistan in June 1986, it kept a check of their serial numbers and distribution. But at least 1,000 had been sent by April 1988 and the Americans now admit to having no idea what became of most of them. ..... "The Stingers do need to be maintained, and would need battery packs and trigger mechanisms checked," said Tony Cullen, editor of Jane's Land Based Air Defence. "But if they have been kept properly the weapons will still function. They were designed to be portable and withstand rough treatment. Their other attraction is that they are simple to use. You aim and fire. " "The Israelis found Stingers held by Hizbollah, American Special Forces found the wreckage of some in Iranian patrol boats destroyed in helicopter attacks in the Gulf war and the Tamils have used them in the Sri Lankan civil war." The FBI is still unsure whether a heat-seeking missile might have brought down TWA flight 800, the civilian airliner that crashed earlier this year in the sea near New York.

Is this all?     No, there is more! Here is an interesting character and we didn't have to abduct him - he came semi-willingly.

March 29, 1997    The Telegraph    (U.K. Electronic Edition)     Issue 673
A Saudi dissident with links to Iran took part in the Dhahran bombing that killed 19 US airmen and injured 500 others last summer, according to Canadian intelligence authorities. Hani al-Sayegh, 28, was arrested while working at a grocery in Ottawa. ...... They claim he is a member of a terrorist organization called Saudi Hizbollah and that he spoke about the bombing in phone calls to Iran tapped by the intelligence services. The details match the Saudi version of the blast. If proved conclusive, they would force President Clinton to act against Teheran, either through a military strike or sanctions.....Sayegh arrived in Canada last August, carrying an international driving permit issued by Syria in 1994. On it, he gave his permanent address as Damascus. The Canadians said that Hizbollah was building a haven for its members in North America.

Couldn't we get him to talk and tell us all about these connections?

June 19, 1997     New York Times
A Saudi dissident who says he will cooperate in the investigation of the bombing that killed 19 Americans in Dhahran last year will plead guilty ... in an earlier plot to kill Americans. The first plot was never carried out. ...This brought him one step closer to a deal under which he would provide evidence about the June 1996 truck bombing in Dhahran in return for not being extradited to Saudi Arabia. .... The federal grand jury indictment ... says Sayegh was paid by an unnamed terrorist organization as part of a plot to "kill nationals of the United States residing and working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" in 1994 and 1995. ..... Sayegh, 28, says he is a member of Saudi Hezbollah, the Party of God, a branch of a terrorist organization based in Lebanon and backed by Iran. He was deported on Tuesday from Canada, where he had arrived last August, about six weeks after the Dhahran bombing.

Great!    Now we'll get to the bottom of it!

July 31, 1997    New York Times
In a setback to FBI efforts to solve a 1996 bombing that killed 19 American servicemen in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi man pleaded not guilty here Wednesday in a separate plot to scout out American targets in the kingdom for terrorist attacks. The not guilty plea unhinged a deal in which the Saudi man, Hani Abdel Rahim Hussein al-Sayegh, who was deported here in June from Canada. Under the arrangement, law-enforcement officials say, he had agreed to provide information about the deadly bombing at the Khobar Towers, a military housing complex in Dhahran used by American Air Force personnel. ..... Law-enforcement officials said Wednesday that while the not-guilty plea did not represent a fatal blow to their efforts, it did provide yet another disappointment in the Khobar Towers case, which has seen little progress. Sayegh was the first witness whom federal agents considered able to shed light on one of the core questions in the bombing -- whether Iran played a role in underwriting the attack. Saudi intelligence officials have said that Sayegh met with Iranian intelligence officials and later acted as a lookout in the attack, on June 25, 1996, in which a truck bomb ripped the face off an apartment building.

September 9, 1997           NY Times
The Justice Department said Monday that it would drop criminal charges against a Saudi dissident who has been a central figure in the government's efforts to investigate the truck bombing that killed 19 American airmen in Saudi Arabia last year. The department, in effect, acknowledged the collapse of its effort to obtain the cooperation of ... Hani Abdel Rahim al-Sayegh .... Government officials said they might try to deport Sayegh, who remains in custody. Officials said they would oppose any application for asylum. .... when he was deported to the United States in June, officials expressed hope that he could answer some of the most puzzling questions in the Khobar Towers case, among them whether Iran had played a role in the attack. .... Saudi intelligence officials had identified Sayegh as a driver of a scout car that signaled the driver of an explosives-laden truck to the site of the blast. But despite three trips to Saudi Arabia by the FBI director, Louis Freeh, U.S. efforts have been stymied by Saudi resistance and refusal to allow access to suspects in custody there.

December 13, 1997     New York Times
A year and a half after 19 U.S. airmen were killed in Saudi Arabia, officials have told their relatives they still do not know who carried out the truck bombing of their barracks. Attorney General Janet Reno, FBI Director Louis Freeh and other officials met privately with families of the victims of the Khobar Towers bombing at a daylong counseling session and dinner Thursday at which they promised to press on with the stalled investigation. "There was great respect for us, but little information," Fran Heiser, the mother of Master Sgt. Michael G. Heiser, said Friday. "They don't have anything concrete." The meeting, which was closed to the press and not announced beforehand, was held at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va. Mrs. Heiser, who has been active in the efforts of the families to learn more about what happened, said that members of 18 families attended. .... The airmen were killed, and 500 other people wounded, when a large truck bomb exploded at the housing complex near Dhahran for Air Force personnel mounting patrols over the no-flight zone in southern Iraq declared after the Persian Gulf War. ...... Investigators had hoped for a break when a Saudi dissident, Hani Abdul Rahim Sayegh, was arrested in Canada on information from Saudi intelligence that he drove a scout car in the bombing. But Sayegh later reneged on a plea-bargain agreement with U.S. officials to provide information, saying he only made it because he feared execution if he was deported to Saudi Arabia. The Justice Department case against him collapsed for lack of evidence. He is now in custody of the immigration authorities, awaiting deportation hearings.

Will we ever get to the bottom of it?

Of course, we will!. The NTSB handed off responsibility for TWA 800 and the FBI got to the bottom of that!

The Department of Defense handed off reponsibility for the Saudi Arabian bombings ....

Q: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us and the families of those who have lost their loved ones, if this report gets you any closer to finding out who is responsible for this terrorist act, and also who, inside the Pentagon or inside the military chain of command, should lose their job over this? Is there serious consideration that that should be done?

Secretary White: Let me answer the first question by saying that the issue around the direct culpability for the attack itself is the responsibility, of course, of the Saudi Government and of the FBI and the Department of Justice -- not the Department of Defense. So we are not involved in the Department of Defense in terms of that effort. Secondly, let me say that our focus here has been on the fact that terrorists killed these people. Americans didn't kill these airmen, terrorists killed these airmen. Our focus then is on what we can do in order to make sure that we minimize and protect against these kinds of enormous, complicated, and sophisticated terrorist threats in the future.

Q: But the General was quite clear that years ago recommendations had been made that intelligence capabilities be improved. It's quite clear that from the report itself, that commanders were given information, yet they didn't act.

Secretary White: That's not true. The commanders acted extensively, and if it were not for the actions of those commanders we would not have saved the many lives that we did. Over 130 steps were taken at Khobar Towers alone. Based on the intelligence that we had, extensive steps were taken.

Q: This question for General Downing and also for the Chairman, if I might. Gentlemen, are you able to say yet, and I'm sorry, I haven't seen the report but let me get right to it, are you able to say yet, if groups harbored by Baghdad, in Baghdad, or the Iraqi Government had anything to do with this? There are also reports that the Syrians were allowing training of Saudi dissidents in their country by Iranians. Is Iran complicitous? Can you tell us anything about who's hitting us?

General Shalikashvili: The responsibility for the investigation of that incident is in the hands of the Saudi Government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those investigations are not yet completed. I have no information that could answer your question.

And I am confident the FBI will get to the bottom of this too!  

But if the U.S. government doesn't want to find "concrete evidence" and it wants to have better relations with a "great civilization" that sponsors terrorism, then all bets are off .......

September 29,   1999 The Washington Post
President Clinton last month sent a secret letter to Iranian President Mohammed Khatemi in which he held out the prospect of better relations between the two countries if Iran helps U.S. investigators find the culprits behind the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military facility in Saudi Arabia, administration officials said. ..... U.S. investigators have long suspected that Iran was linked to the June 25, 1996, truck bombing of the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen and wounded more than 500 other people.
At the same time, the Clinton administration is eager to explore the possibilities for dialogue with Khatemi, a moderate cleric who was elected in May 1997--nearly a year after the bombing took place--and has called for better relations with the West. The request from Clinton was based in part on intelligence reports linking the bombing to three Saudi men who have taken refuge in Iran, a senior official said. The three men are thought to be affiliated with a Shiite Muslim extremist group known as Saudi Hezbollah. Shiite Muslims constitute a minority in Saudi Arabia, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, and many Shiites feel at least a spiritual kinship with the Shiite clerics who rule Iran. ...... Clinton's request to Khatemi for help on the investigation was first reported Sept. 10 by Kuwait's al-Watan newspaper. At the time, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin confirmed that Clinton had indeed passed a message to Khatemi, but he declined to say how the letter was transmitted or provide any details of its contents. .... Clinton's letter--his first direct message to the Iranian government--also repeated language from his previous public statements to the effect that Iran and the United States are "great civilizations" that should have a natural affinity for one another. ..... Administration officials believe that most Iranians have tired of the virulent anti-Western views that have characterized Iran's foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution that deposed the American-backed shah. They have called on Iran to begin a government-to-government dialogue aimed at addressing, among other things, Iran's support for Islamic fundamentalist groups opposed to the American-sponsored Middle East peace process. Khatemi, however, is under intense pressure from religious hard-liners and has yet to respond to Washington's offer. U.S. officials fear that anything they say in support of the Iranian president will be used by the conservatives to undermine his authority in advance of crucial parliamentary elections in February. "At least until the elections, relations with the United States are going to be held hostage to the internal struggle," a U.S. official said, adding that if Khatemi's supporters do well at the polls, he may "feel more confident to engage in a dialogue." ...... Suspicion fell on Saudi Shiite extremists almost immediately after the Khobar bombing. But the FBI quickly ran into roadblocks when Saudi authorities refused to let U.S. investigators interrogate witnesses and potential suspects; FBI agents had to make do with the accounts of interrogations conducted by Saudi authorities. The only break in the case came in 1997 when Canadian officials turned over Hani Abdel Rahim Sayegh, a Saudi dissident who fled to Canada seeking asylum. Sayegh initially claimed to have information pointing directly to the involvement of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Khobar bombing, but he later reneged on a plea agreement with the Justice Department. He is now in deportation proceedings. .... After more than a year of U.S. diplomatic protests, the Saudis relented last spring and allowed U.S. investigators to witness interrogations of people held in relation to the Khobar bombings. These sessions produced further indications of an Iranian role in the terrorist attack but no concrete evidence.

So the U.S. government decided to send Sayegh back to Saudi Arabia where his head could be removed while refusing to reach any "conclusions" about the Government of Iran ....

October 5, 1999   The NY Times
The Clinton Administration announced Monday that it was deporting to Saudi Arabia a suspect in the terrorist bombing there that killed 19 American airmen three years ago. It also said it had information concerning the possible involvement of Iranian officials in the attack. The deportation of Hani el-Sayegh, a Saudi Arabian dissident who once lived in Iran, came after the Administration disclosed last week that President Clinton had sent a letter to President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, asking for help in finding those responsible for the bombing. "We do have information about the involvement of Iranian officials but have not reached the conclusion that this was directed by the Government of Iran," a senior State Department official said Monday. The Administration has "made it clear to Iran we want and expect its cooperation," the official said, referring to Clinton's message to Khatami. Until now, according to officials, the Administration has been reluctant to acknowledge possible Iranian involvement in the attack, in part because shortly after the bombing at the Khobar Towers apartments, the Administration threatened to retaliate with a military attack against any foreign government found to be responsible. A retaliatory attack against Iran, the officials said, would not be in the interests of neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is Washington's closest ally in the region and has markedly improved its relations with Iran. Such retaliation is not in the interests of the Clinton Administration, either, officials said, since Washington has been exploring ways of trying to improve relations with Iran and the relatively moderate Khatami. The one-page letter from Clinton, delivered through an Omani intermediary in August, appeared to be an effort to solve the Khobar Towers case, a move that could then help clear the way for warmer relations with Teheran, officials said. The Iranian Government responded to Clinton with a letter in which it denied any involvement in the Khobar bombing, an Administration official said. In their letter, the Iranians noted that the American Government had never brought to justice the captain of the Vincennes, the American warship that shot down an Iranian passenger airliner by mistake in the 1980's, the Administration official said. Law enforcement officers have long known that several Saudi men, believed to have been trained and possibly financed by the Iranians, fled to Iran after the bombing. The suspects in Iran are believed to have been members of the Saudi branch of Hezbollah, or Party of God, a terrorist group with strong ties to Iran. ...... In the decision to deport Sayegh back to Saudi Arabia, Administration officials said that they did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute him in the American court system for the attack but that the Saudi Government believed that it had the basis for proceeding against him. Early on, Saudi intelligence officials identified Sayegh as the driver of a car that signaled the driver of the explosive-laden truck to the site of the blast. The Justice Department said Sayegh, who fled to Canada after the bombing and was arrested there, had failed to abide by an initial plea agreement with the Justice Department. The department then terminated his parole in October 1997 and placed him in removal proceedings. After initially suggesting that he was involved in the case, Sayegh -- who has been described by officials as being an opponent of the Saudi royal family -- changed his testimony. He then insisted that he had no information on the bombing, officials said. Sayegh has been fighting the proceedings to send him back to Saudi Arabia on the grounds that he is in severe danger for his life if he returns to his homeland. An Administration official said Washington had received assurances from the Saudi Government that Sayegh would not be tortured on his return. But there were no assurances about what would happen if he was convicted, the official said. In its announcement of the deportation of Sayegh, the Justice Department said the Saudi Government had several individuals awaiting trial in the case and has "in the past demonstrated resolve in the prosecution of terrorists."