|Troubling Questions in Troubling Times|
A critical look at the history of attacks on the World Trade Center
|by James S. Adam|
5 October 2001
I would like to bring to your attention that the following is some research that I have conducted on the background of the varying attacks which have been committed upon the World Trade Center throughout the years.
I have not placed any copyright upon this work, therefore you are free to use it in any way which you may choose. However, I request that if you do decide to make use of this article, that you do your utmost to keep it as close to its original form as possible. James S. Adam
Following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, assistant FBI director James Fox declared that the man who was responsible for planting the explosives in the infamous Ford Econoline Van was Mohammed Salameh, one of the followers of Omar Abdel Rahman. The New York Times ran an article which declared him a "Suspect Tied to Islamic Fundamentalist Sect."
This conclusion was made when the police searched the apartment of one Josie Hadas a long established Mossad operative. On June 8, 1993, the International Herald Tribune ran an article in which it was stated that the telephone number and apartment listed on the rental agreement for the van belonged to Josie Hadas. According to Malcolm Gladwell of the Washington Post, "The FBI complaint read Thursday night in court said that Salameh had provided a telephone number "in connection with the rental agreement that was traced to a person named Josie Hadas, at a Jersey City address." The article added: "A search of the Hadas apartment Thursday afternoon had discovered "among other things, a letter addressed to the defendant, tools and wiring, and manuals concerning antennae, circuitry and electromagnetic devices."
The article stated: "A law enforcement officer trained as a bomb technician has examined these materials," the FBI said, "and concluded that they constitute evidence of a 'bomb maker' at the location. Lastly, a dog trained in the detection of explosives responded positively to a closet space within the apartment." If this letter addressed to Salameh and the bomb making tools were located in Hadas's apartment, then the question of why Hadas was not also implicated in this crime still remains to be answered. Furthermore, where is Josie Hadas?
Following the explosion, investigators started to sift through the rubble in the parking garage under the World Trade Center. They found fragments of a vehicle with an identification number corresponding to the number of the Ford Econoline Van which Salameh had rented in his own name. Salameh had reported the vehicle as being stolen to the police prior to the explosion, and thus the van had been listed in a nationwide computer directory of stolen vehicles. According to the way in which the pieces of the truck appeared to be positioned on the ground, the FBI strongly suspected that it was this Ford Econoline van which had carried the bomb.
Salameh returned to the Jersey City Ryder rental center in order to hand over the police documents confirming that he had reported the vehicle stolen. Furthermore, he asked for his $400 deposit to be returned, and as he left the agency, the police arrested him. The FBI had suspected that Salameh was involved in the bombing when they examined the rental documents that he had returned to the Ryder clerk when he first reported the vehicle stolen the previous week. According to the FBI, the documents were covered with traces of chemical nitrates.
The Washington Post article asked a senior law enforcement official why, "if he is guilty, Salameh would have been so naïve as to rent the truck in his own name, report it stolen to the agency and the police, and return twice to the agency to attempt to retrieve his deposit, the senior law enforcement official said: "Who knows. Just because he's a terrorist, doesn't mean he's a brain surgeon. ... Call it good investigating."
However, a problem arose with the FBI's claim that the bomb was composed of nitrates. On Thursday, September 14, 1995, the Washington Post affirmed that the FBI crime laboratory was being probed and that "the Justice Department is investigating complaints that workers in the bureau's crime laboratory have offered misleading or fabricated evidence in a number of major criminal cases."
The article went on to cite that these allegations were made by special agent Frederic Whitehurst with specific regards to the World Trade Center bombing case, as well as other well publicized cases. On August 14, 1995, special agent Frederic Whitehurst testified in the bombing trial that urea nitrate, the claimed chemical compound which had been used in the bombing, was such a rare substance that it could not be found in the United States. Although Whitehurst confirmed that the substance could be used to make a bomb, he was not aware of it being reported in use since 1960 when the Australians discontinued its use because of its propensity to decompose very quickly. Moreover, the substance was so rarely used to make bombs that he was not aware of it ever having been tested in FBI laboratories.
During the course of the trial, special agent Frederic Whitehurst testified that the FBI concocted misleading scientific reports and pressured two of their scientists to perjure their testimony in order to support its prosecution of the defendants:
Dr. Whitehurst was asked the following questions in the course of his testimony, as mentioned in an official court transcript, page 16337:
Q: "During your examination of the bomb residue materials and the chemicals associated with the defendants, you became aware that the FBI agents investigating the case had developed a preliminary theory that the bomb that blew up the World Trade Center was a urea nitrate bomb?"
A: "Yes, that is correct."
Q: "Did there come a time when you began to experience pressure from within the FBI to reach certain conclusions that supported that theory of the investigation?"
A: "Yes, that is correct."
Q: "In other words, you began to experience pressure on you to say that the explosion was caused by a urea nitrate bomb?"
A: "Yes, that is correct."
Q: "And you were aware that such a finding would strengthen the prosecution of the defendants who were on trial, who were going on trial in that case, correct?"
Special agent Frederic Whitehurst, the senior FBI explosives expert, was demoted to paint analysis.
The most disturbing part of this trial was the dubious testimony of one Emad Salem, an obscure figure who was hired by the FBI following the famed killing of right-wing militant rabbi Meir Kahane in 1991. Salem, a high ranking Egyptian government operative, had penetrated the circles of [Omar Abdel] Rahman [the blind Muslim cleric currently in jail] and had secretly tape recorded countless meetings. The prosecution's case relied almost entirely on the testimony of Emad Salem, who was taken into the Witness Protection program on June 24, 1993, and promised five hundred thousand dollars in exchange for his testimony.
Salem informed the FBI about the more than 1,000 conversations he had recorded within Rahman's circle sometime between December 1991 and June 1993. Unbeknownst to the FBI, he had also been secretly taping their conversations too. Bugging the FBI, Salem had deceived them, which would prove to be very problematic as these tapes established that the FBI was at the very least, aware of Salem's role of being an 'agent provocateur' in the bombing, as well as his involvement in the plans to blow up the United Nations Building and Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.
The Los Angeles Times ran a story on July 4, 1993, stating that fifty storage boxes of documents concerning plans to blow up the World Trade Center had 'sat' in police and FBI hands.
On Aug. 3, 1993, an epic edition of New York Newsday was released in which the presence of these cassettes would first be publicized, thus revealing a secret U.S. Government complicity in the World Trade Center bombing: "The Federal informant who allegedly foiled the plot to bomb the Holland Tunnel and the United Nations Building secretly tape recorded his conversations with Federal prosecutors and agents. Prosecutors fear that the recorded conversations, which must be turned over to defense lawyers, could damage the conspiracy case against the eleven defendants."
The article continued:
"Emad Salem, the shadowy Government informant who videotaped Muslim Fundamentalists as they allegedly conspired to bomb a variety of city landmarks made at least forty audiotapes of his discussions with FBI and Federal authorities, sources say. Law enforcement officials discovered the tapes last month while they were gathering items from Salem's apartment, sources say. Joyce London, lawyer for suspect Tariq El-Hassan, called the tapes 'a gold mine' because they will show jurors how the case was spawned, and will possibly bolster an entrapment defense. It's going to lay out exactly how the deal was set up what instructions he (Salem) was given, and how far he was told to go to ensnare these people,' she said. 'This proves that Salem cannot be trusted. He betrayed everyone,' said Ron Kuby, lawyer for defendant Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali. 'He was working for the FBI, but he was also bugging the FBI.'"
The article maintained:
"Prosecutors concede that the conversations may become a potent weapon for defense attorneys, damaging the informant's credibility and strengthening the defense's theory that the FBI instigated the plot. 'This could definitely hurt the case,' said an investigator who asked not to be identified. 'Even though the investigation and its results are fair, the process can be pretty messy. Those conversations are definitely not the kind of thing you want a jury to hear.'"
After Salem had been placed on the Witness Protection program, the government sought to fend off any negative publicity from the news of these newly found cassettes by leaking the portions of the cassettes to the media which were incriminating to the defendants. Attorney William Kunstler said that "the news that this was coming out caused the United States Government, I believe, to leak out some of the tapes to ABC, which ran them last night, both on the Evening News with Peter Jennings and on the Nightline program at 11:30." He continued:
"The Government, which was ordered by the court on Friday not to continue these leaks, breached it immediately. So we're going to ask the court for a hearing. But what they did ... they did a preemptive strike! They knew that the Newsday story was coming today, and so, they tried to tamper it by leaking out only those portions of the tape which they thought were incriminating [to the defendants], and they hid those portions of the tape which were not incriminating which were exonerative."
As for the portions which clearly indicated that the FBI was involved in a classic entrapment setup and had collaborated with Salem in the implementation of the bombing, they were conveniently not publicized. In a surreptitiously taped conversation involving Salem and Special Agent John Anticev, Salem refers to his contribution in the making of the bomb and the Bureau's awareness and consent of it. An avaricious Salem is seen pressing for more money. The conversation revolves around references to the bombing and the FBI's acquaintance of the bomb making:
Anticev: "But ah basically nothing has changed. I'm just telling you for my own sake that nothing, that this isn't a salary but you got paid regularly for good information. I mean the expenses were a little bit out of the ordinary and it was really questioned. Don't tell Nancy I told you this."
Salem: "Well, I have to tell her of course."
Anticev: "Well then, if you have to, you have to."
Salem: "Yeah, I mean because the lady was being honest and I was being honest and everything was submitted with receipts and now it's questionable."
Anticev: "It's not questionable, it's like a little out of the ordinary."
Salem: "Okay. I don't think it was. If that what you think guys, fine, but I don't think that because we was start already building the bomb which is went off in the World Trade Center. It was built by supervising supervision from the Bureau and the DA and we was all informed about it and we know what the bomb start to be built. By who? By your confidential informant. What a wonderful great case! And then he put his head in the sand I said "Oh, no, no, that's not true, he is son of a bitch." (Deep breath) Okay. It's built with a different way in another place and that's it."
Anticev: "No, don't make any rash decisions. I'm just trying to be as honest with you as I can."
Salem: "Of course, I appreciate that."
Former Watergate associate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste warned that these tapes pose "an absolute nightmare for federal prosecutors."
When Ron Kuby, one of the defendant's attorneys in the case was questioned about an article which revealed that Salem and the FBI were involved in the bombing, he stated: "The article on the FBl being involved in the World Trade Center bombing actually understated the evidence, believe it or not. The informer, Emad Salem, is actually on tape saying that he built the bomb that ultimately blew up the World Trade Center."
"In addition, we have received information that he was visually observed at the scene of the bombing shortly after the bombing took place. Shortly after that, he was admitted to the hospital, suffering from an ear problem that was consistent with exposure to blast. The mastermind is the government of the United States. It was a phony, government-engineered conspiracy to begin with. It would never have amounted to anything had the government not planned it."
After having observed American intelligence agencies' findings on the second attack upon the World Trade Center, one gets the distinct feeling that some of the evidence which has been brought forward so far seems to contain a certain amount of inadequacy. Many questions have now come to fruition, the following being some of them: On September 11, four teams of hijackers walked past the security of three major metropolitan airports and hijacked four aircraft. Two were crashed into the World Trade Towers, one into the Pentagon, and one had reportedly come crashing to the ground after some of the passengers fought off the hijackers.
As regards the actual operation itself and the reactions of the defense mechanisms of the US government, there are many questionable occurrences which need to be given more consideration. How could it be that the synchronized hijackings of four large commercial jet aircraft over an extended period of time did not alert anyone to the likelihood of the looming assaults? Whoever carried out this organized and flawless operation must have been coordinated by a significant group who possess money, manpower, technological knowledge of force of impact and penetration capabilities, as well as insiders' information of strategic parts of the Pentagon. This attack required a high level of military exactitude and the resources of an advanced intelligence body. As well, the attackers would have needed to be familiar with possible defensive flight operations, civil airline flight paths, and the acquisition of a favourable ratio of probability of success without any intrusion from the security apparatus of the vast U.S. intelligence and radar systems. It is amazing to think that these planes were able to swerve from their assigned flight plan, remain undetected for reasonable periods of time and then crash into these key targets without any reported effort to stop them from the greatest military and intelligence system in the world.
Although we have heard much about possible encrypted messages from Al-Qaeda, intelligence operatives concede that Bin Laden has moved from being 'low-tech' to 'no-tech' in the last few years. Do these terrorists really possess the necessary characteristics to successfully carry out such a precise, coordinated and undetected attack?
Strangely enough, the day after the hijacking, the UK's Telegraph reported that "passengers on the hijacked aircraft were ordered to phone their families and tell them they were going to die" and that, "passengers were ordered at knifepoint to say that their flight had been hijacked and they were going to crash into the White House." The article also mentioned: "Similar calls were reported to have been made by passengers on the other flights." It seems odd to think that the hijackers would force passengers to call relatives, but more puzzling than this is the question of why there had been a uniform agenda for the victims on each of the planes to be forced at knifepoint to call their loved ones and convey specific messages. It would obviously have been a pre-planned affair, so what was the intent of the hijackers in carrying out this part of the operation?
Concerning the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings, structural engineers and architects have concluded that when the buildings were struck by planes carrying more than 20,000 pounds of fuel and remained standing, heat became the real structural threat. The planes hit vital components of the building cascading massive amounts of fuel, thus triggering off raging fires which destabilized the load-bearing capacity of the interior structure.
Experts estimate that temperatures near the airplane wreckage may have risen to levels as high as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can easily melt steel. This is what explains the thermal stress that occurred, which activated the great implosion of the buildings. [But see J. McMichael's I Tried To Be Patriotic.] This also shows us that the hijackers were well aware of these scientific and structural principles, and the buildings were well chosen. As New York architect John Young observed, "There are other buildings of similar construction, those with large open floor plans without interior support columns." [Except for the central supporting steel columns.]
More importantly, it brings to light the questionable nature of the claim that somehow, a hijacker's paper passport could survive that raging inferno and catastrophic implosion unlike the almost indestructible flight recorder and amazingly be "discovered in the rubble at the site of the World Trade Centre". Another more troubling matter in relation to the attacks is the actual identity of the hijackers. Many of the suspects' identities have proven to be mistaken. In the FBI's official press release of September 27, the following was stated: "It should be noted that attempts to confirm the true identities of these (19) individuals are still under way."
FBI Chief Robert Mueller conceded on September 20 and September 27 that at this time, the FBI has no conclusive evidence to prove the true identities of the hijackers. He said investigators think they have identified "several" of the hijackers correctly, adding: "We have several others that are still in question."
This is actually an understatement, as some of these people are on different continents working for such airlines as Tunis Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines. Some of these men have reported that they are considering legal action against CNN and American authorities for having mentioned their names as suspects prior to the issuing of the most recent FBI lists. It should be noted that the FBI kept them on the most recently issued lists despite knowing that these individuals are still alive and were not involved in these terrorist acts in any way. The list is strewn with sentences like "Possible Saudi national", "Possible resident of." and "Believed to be a pilot". If a portion of these identities have been forged, should the possibility of them all being forged not also be considered?
The first list which the FBI issued stated that Hani Hanjour is "believed to be a pilot," but the second list published on September 27 by the FBI does not identify Hani Hanjour as being "believed to be a pilot". The other four suspected hijackers of American Airlines flight #77 which crashed into the Pentagon are also not listed as being pilots. This raises the question of who actually flew the plane into that strategic part of the Pentagon, if not Hani Hanjour? There are other discrepancies which are worthy of mention. The Arab News carried a story on September 23, wherein Muhammad Salim Al-Hamzi, father of Nawaf and Salim al-Hamzi, said the pictures of his sons distributed by the FBI were "fabricated". The pictures of his boys which the father issued the Saudian paper clearly differed from those issued by the FBI, although both showed pictures of Arab men. It would be interesting to know why the hijackers had gone to great lengths to forge identities of men who were alive and accredited as being pilots when it is known that they were only boarding the planes as civilians. Who would benefit from them being identified as being certified pilots by trade?
[The author of this article seems to accept that the hijackers were among the passengers on the planes. But the planes may have been hijacked remotely see Home Run with a misleading story of "Arab hijackers", in support of which there had to be Arabs on board with some training as pilots.]
It also seems as if the suspects, whoever they were, were trying to implicate some sort of Saudia Arabian collusion in the attack, judging by the large number of forged Saudi identities involved in the case.
Saeed Alghamdi, Mohald Alshehri, Abdulaziz Alomari, Waleed Alshehri and Ahmed Alnami have either been exempted from involvement in these attacks or their identities are being seriously questioned. As for others such as Amer Kamfar and Adnan and Amer Bukhari, their names have ceased being mentioned as possible suspects, one of whom had died approximately two years ago.
The official passenger manifests which the airlines have issued for all four of the airplanes do not contain one Arab name. Although the airlines might have been requested by US intelligence to omit this information in their publicized passenger lists, knowing the actual list of the passengers' names would help explain many of the aforementioned irregularities. In a September 21 BBC article entitled "The last moments of Flight 11", a brave flight attendant named Madeline Amy Sweeney made a desperate telephone call which "has provided new details of the last moments of Flight 11 before it hit the World Trade Center." Sweeney spoke of there being only four hijackers, whereas the FBI list shows that there were five. Describing what "appears to conflict with previous information", the BBC article noted that "the seat numbers she gave were different from those registered in the hijackers' names."
Indeed, the more that we learn about the list of suspected hijackers, the more mysterious things become. Perhaps nothing is more so than the actual personalities and lives of the suspects themselves. Rather than getting the idea that these people who were supposed to be religious extremists were actually devout people, one is led to believe that they were in fact more interested in partying and womanizing.
On September 13, the Associated Press reported: "Three men spewed anti-American sentiments in a bar and talked of impending bloodshed the night before the terrorist attacks."
John Kap, a Daytona Beach strip club manager "told FBI investigators the men in his bar spent $200 to $300 apiece on lap dances and drinks, paying with credit cards."
"They were talking about what a bad place America is. They said 'Wait 'til tomorrow. America is going to see bloodshed,'" the owner of the strip bar was quoted as saying.
Furthermore, Kap said that he gave the FBI their credit card receipts, photocopied driver's licenses, a business card left by one of the suspects and most amazingly, a copy of a Koran that one of the men had left at the bar. The article mentions that the FBI requested that Kap not reveal the men's names publicly.
These facts truly boggle the mind when we consider that these suspects are supposed to be religious fanatics who are willing to die for their faith the next morning. Anybody who has the slightest acquaintance with the Islamic tradition would know that an impious Muslim, even if he were somehow to fall into the sways of lap dances and drinking, would never be so blasphemous as to bring in a Koran with him and leave it behind at a bar. These religious fanatics, had supposedly been hiding their tracks for anywhere up to five years, and in the last days before the attacks, they suddenly began doing everything they could to be noticed and remembered, leaving behind a plethora of evidence in their last days.
Things become even more astonishing and contradictory. While these men were busy collecting exorbitant bar tabs and blurting out what they had apparently kept secret for years, according to the letter which the FBI published, they were also to keep a rigorous program of worship, contemplation and preparation in what the letter calls the "Last night." We are to believe that while they were coming down from their alcoholic frenzy, they were also to "purify" their hearts by forsaking their beds, standing up "to pray throughout this night".
They are told that during this last night: "You should pray, you should fast", although it is known that Muslims start their fast at dawn and break their fast at sunset, not fasting by night and eating by day. This truly is a mysterious insertion.
"Continue to recite the Koran" and "Obey God", they are told.
In his will, Atta requests that his body be washed and buried. Was he thinking that his body would survive the impact of the attack upon the Twin Towers?
In fact, this letter is so scattered with obvious flaws that it caused the UK-based Independent's Robert Fisk to write an article entitled, "What Muslim would write: 'The time of fun and waste is gone?" In it, Fisk declares that the FBI-issued letter was, "Fearful, chilling, grotesque but also very, very odd."
"If the handwritten, five-page document which the FBI says it found in the baggage of Mohamed Atta, the suicide bomber from Egypt, is genuine," the Middle East expert added, "then the men who murdered more than 7,000 innocent people believed in a very exclusive version of Islam or were surprisingly unfamiliar with their religion."
The universal Islamic opening phrase of "In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate" is also written as "In the name of God, of myself, and of my family" at the beginning of the letter. Experts on Islamic studies have said that in the monotheistic tradition of Islam, this phrase is extremely erroneous and absolutely unheard of.
Fisk adds: "No Muslim however ill-taught would include his family in such a prayer. Indeed, he would mention the Prophet Mohamed immediately after he mentioned God in the first line." Those who specialize in Islamic studies have explained that this opening line of "In the name of God" would be followed up with the invocation that God send his peace and blessings upon the Prophet Mohamed. It would read something like this: "In the name of God, and may His peace and blessings be upon Prophet Mohamed." Citing numerous deficiencies in the letter, Fisk says that it "raises more questions than it answers."
The Washington Post says the FBI found another copy of "essentially the same document" in the debris of the flight which crashed in Pennsylvania. The copy which the FBI issued was found in Mohamed Atta's luggage. [Mohamed Atta was alleged by the FBI to be the pilot of AA Flight 11 which crashed into the North Tower. Supposedly his luggage didn't make it onto the flight, which is how it allegedly came into the hands of the FBI. Curious.] If we were able to understand how a suicide hijacker would bring luggage with him on his final mission, then we might also be able to understand how he would put his final instruction letter in this bag which happened to be diverted and found by FBI authorities.
It has been reported that there was a link between the two reputedly heavy drinkers, Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, and a Lebanese man by the name of Ziad Jarrah. Nonetheless, there again appears to be an incongruity between the supposed lifestyle that a religious extremist would live, and the lifestyle that Ziad Jarrah lived. His uncle, Jamal Jarrah, was quoted in a September 16 Independent article as saying, "He was so normal. His personality and his life bore no relation to the kind of things that happened. He led a very normal life. He had girlfriends, he went to nightclubs, he went dancing sometimes."
The article notes that everyone who knew Ziad had the same thing to say about him, "that Ziad was a happy, secular youth, that he never showed any interest in religion and never visited the mosque for prayers, that he liked women even if he was at times reserved and shy."
Live-in girlfriend for five years, nightclubs, drinking, dancing, a secular youth who didn't visit mosques for prayers and in other reports, was not interested in politics; this does not fit the image of a zealot ready to kill and die for his faith. Then again, the media has reported that his Turkish girlfriend declared that he disappeared for a while and went to Afghanistan.
In an exclusive telephone conversation which occurred in the presence of the Saudi Arabian Arab News staff's Ibrahim Awadh, a highly concerned Jamal Jarrah spoke to Ziad's Turkish girlfriend Asl, in Hamburg, Germany. Originally reported on September 21, the article asserts: "He repeatedly asked her: "Did you ever see Muhammad Atta or anyone else who appeared on the list of suspected hijackers?"
He continued: "Do you think Ziad knew anyone of them? We want a clear reply from you because we all are worried and want to know the facts," he said. But Asl was emphatic in her denials. She continued weeping: "Listen, Jamal. You know we were about to get married. Ziad was a jovial and kindhearted gentleman. I loved him with all my heart, and we were preparing to return to Lebanon for our wedding."
Asl denied agency reports that she said Ziad diasappeared mysteriously for about one-and-a-half months and that she was told he went to Afghanistan. She said with anger: "From where (do) they get all this? It is all lies. I did not speak with anyone. The police did not allow me to talk with anyone, even on the telephone. I am speaking to you now in the presence of police."
On September 20, the Telegraph reported that she is now under "witness protection."
In an interesting development, on September 18, Ha'aretz reported that five Israelis had been detained "for what the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] has described as 'puzzling behavior' following the terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York". The eminent Israeli newspaper quoted one of the unnamed detainee's mothers as saying that they had been arrested approximately four hours after the attack on the Twin Towers while filming the smoking skyline from the roof of their company's building. She added, "They thought that because he has citizenship of a European country as well as of Israel that he was working for the Mossad."
They were spotted by one of the neighbors who called the police and the FBI, because he saw them "videotaping the disaster and shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery." The men are "expected to be deported sometime soon", the article added. This story otherwise went unnoticed in the media, except that CNN originally reported that they were men of Middle-Eastern origin. The Telegraph reported on September 16 that the Israeli Mossad had actually "warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent."
The article noted that "two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many as 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation."
It added that, "They had no specific information about what was being planned but linked the plot to Osama bin Laden and told the Americans that there were strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement," said a senior Israeli security official.
This story has been flatly denied by the FBI. The Associated Press carried a story on September 20 in which the FBI rebuffed a similar claim which had been written in the Los Angeles Times with FBI spokesman Bill Harlow saying, "That is utter nonsense". The FBI is also being tight lipped about a story which the Washington Post reported on September 27 and also confirmed by Ha'aretz, that Odigo, a New York based instant-messaging firm with offices in Israel, had confirmed "that two employees received text messages warning of an attack on the World Trade Center two hours before terrorists crashed planes into the New York landmarks." Micha Macover, CEO of the New York based company with offices in Israel, said two workers received the messages and immediately after the terror attack, informed the company's management about the warnings. The management contacted the Israeli security services, which consequently brought in the FBI.
Odigo has a feature called People Finder that allows users to seek out and contact other Odigo users, although Alex Diamandis, vice president of sales and marketing, said he had not received reports of there being other recipients of the message. The company declined to reveal the exact contents of the warning.
In a front-page article which appeared only one day before the tragic attacks, The Washington Times affirmed that an official 68-page report prepared by 60 US Army officers at the US Army's School for Advanced Military Studies warned of Mossad's capability to target the United States. The report mentioned that the Israeli intelligence agency was "ruthless and cunning" and "a wildcard".
It would be interesting to know how Mossad came to learn that "large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent", as reported by Philip Jacobson in Jerusalem. As well, perhaps American investigators can clarify how Odigo could have been alerted to these attacks two hours prior to their occurrence and why the FBI have failed to publicize this crucial lead as it has done for other Middle Eastern leads.
The US's interest in military operations in Afghanistan is not something new. In fact, the US government had actually already planned to attack Afghanistan prior to September 11. On Tuesday, September 18, the BBC's George Arney reported that Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials at a Berlin UN-sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan that America would seek military action against the Taleban by the middle of October, 2001. He was told that the wider objective would be to topple the Taleban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place possibly under the leadership of the former Afghan King Zahir Shah. A similar report was made public in India Reacts in June, prior to the attacks, in which it spoke of "US and Russian plans for 'limited military action'."
Lee Coldren, one of the American officials at the gathering, confirmed this in a September 22 article in the Guardian: "I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action." However, he pointed out that it was not an agenda item at the meeting "but was mentioned just in passing". Tom Simons and Rick Inderfurth, both of whom were present at these meetings, denied these allegations.
On September 16, Vice President Dick Cheney revealed in an interview that in the hours following the attacks, President Bush had ordered the downing of any commercial jet that endangered Washington. As well, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz noted that the U.S. Air Force had been tracking the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania and had been in a position to bring it down. However, the official government position is that apparently, all four planes crashed before such an unprecedented order could be brought into effect.
Furthermore, Wolfowitz denied that it was the action of the Air Force that brought down the fourth plane, but rather the heroism of its passengers, who are believed to have frustrated the hijackers' efforts to hit another landmark building.
In spite of this, there remain eye-witness and insider accounts which show that something else happened. On September 13, the Washington Times ran a story affirming that by 10:30 a.m., the military had taken control of U.S. airspace, quoting an unnamed Federal Aviation Administration employee at the Nashua control facility. By 10:37, the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. According to the Washington Post, "the employee also told the newspaper that FAA air traffic controllers in Nashua learned through discussions with other controllers that an F-16 fighter stayed in hot pursuit of another hijacked commercial airliner until it crashed in Pennsylvania."
Moreover, "they have learned the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet, the employee said." Commenting about the F-16 pilot's view of Flight 93's end, the employee mentioned: "He must've seen the whole thing."
Yet, serious questions still remain, casting profound doubt upon official accounts. On September 13, CNN aired a live interview with Daryn Kagan, CNN anchor, and Brian Cabell, a CNN correspondent, in which he was asked to update the situation at the Pennsylvania crash site: "Well, Daryn, in the last hour or so, the FBI and the state police here have confirmed that they have cordoned off a second area about six to eight miles away from the crater here where (the) plane went down. This is apparently another debris site, which raises a number of questions. Why would debris from the plane and they identified it specifically as being from this plane why would debris be located 6 miles away. Could it have blown that far away? It seems highly unlikely. Almost all the debris found at this site is within 100 yards, 200 yards, so it raises some questions."
He continued, "... what we do know is that there's a site about (a) half mile behind me, where the plane went down, where most of the debris is, and then about six miles away up by a lake, there is another area that's been cordoned off, and state police and the FBI have said definitely there is debris from the plane located there." This report does not contradict state police and civilian citings, as reported on September 13 by Reuters: "Pennsylvania state police officials said on Thursday debris from the plane had been found up to 8 miles away (from the crash site) in a residential community where local media have quoted residents as speaking of a second plane in the area and burning debris falling from the sky."
The Somerest PA paper The Daily American also reported that a passenger locked in a bathroom aboard United Flight 93 called 911 saying, "We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!" the paper quoted dispatch supervisor Glenn Cramer from Westmoreland County as saying. The man told dispatchers the plane "was going down. He heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him," Cramer said.
All of these accounts prove that the plane must have exploded in the air, or else it would not be logical to assume that the wreckage from the plane could have been dispersed in an approximately six to eight mile radius, if it were only a crash. This conclusion leads us with only two options; either the hijackers exploded the plane, or the plane was shot down by the F-16 which was reportedly following it. Whatever the case, the F-16 would have at the very least witnessed this event, all of this differing from official accounts.
For most of the day of the attacks, President Bush remained absent from Washington, being whisked from one fortified military edifice to another by the Secret Service. Bush was widely criticized amongst political and media circles for his apparent lack of fortitude in those opening moments, such that even hard-core Republicans such as New York Times columnist William Safire insinuated that Bush had panicked and not been there for the people at their hour of need. On September 12, Safire wrote, "Even in the first horrified moments, this was never seen as a nuclear attack by a foreign power. Bush should have insisted on coming right back to the Washington area, broadcasting live and calm from a secure facility not far from the White House."
By the afternoon of September 12, Reuters and the Associated Press were reporting that a White House spokesperson had said, "There was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets of terrorist attacks and that the plane that hit the Pentagon was headed for the White House." This claim was reiterated by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer later on in the same day, where he stated that the Secret Service had "specific and credible information" that the White House and Air Force One were impending targets.
In an article entitled "Inside the Bunker" dated September 13, Safire noted that an anonymous White House Official of repute had told him that, "a threatening message received by the Secret Service was relayed to the agents with the president that 'Air Force One is next.'" According to this important official, American code words were used which indicated that these threats were made by people who had insiders' knowledge of intelligence procedures, and thus the threat was seen as being probable.
Safire added that this report was even confirmed by Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove, who claimed that Bush had actually wanted to return to Washington, but the Secret Service "informed him that the threat contained language that was evidence that the terrorists had knowledge of his procedures and whereabouts." Two weeks following these remarkable claims, the White House made a three hundred and sixty degrees' turn, as it was now being reported by the Washington Post and CBS News that this call "simply never happened."
The retraction of the previous official White House claim of there having been a tip-off must necessarily reveal one of two things, there being no third. The first possibility would suppose that the White House fabricated an excuse for President Bush's controversial absence, hoping to avert any further fallout from public disapproval. If this is the case, then it indicates that even only a few hours into the crisis, the White House was willing to trump up any story which would serve its interests. This would mean that everything which followed in the way of investigations and motives of US war arrangements should be open to greater scrutiny.
There is another important possibility which has also been considered. In Safire's column of September 13, he raised a disturbing question: "How did they get the code-word information and transponder know-how that established their mala fides? That knowledge of code words and presidential whereabouts and possession of secret procedures indicates that the terrorists may have a mole in the White House that, or informants in the Secret Service, FBI, FAA, or CIA."
How could an Arab terrorist have knowledge of such classified information as code words, presidential movements and acquaintance of secret procedures without having direct help from high up within the intelligence structure?
In Prime Minister Tony Blair's recently publicized evidence against Bin Laden, the following is written: "This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law."
Nevertheless, this document has been professed to be the necessary proof which links Bin Laden to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The document states: "Usama Bin Laden has claimed credit for the attack on US soldiers in Somalia in October 1993, which killed 18; for the attack on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 which killed 224 and injured nearly 5000; and were linked to the attack on the USS Cole on 12 October 2000, in which 17 crew members were killed and 40 others injured."
This is an inaccuracy, as it is well known that Bin Laden has not claimed responsibility for these attacks, although he does not ideologically disassociate himself from these acts. In fact, Prime Minister Blair's document is more a long collection of assertions previously reported in the media regarding Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, rather than it being a collection of demonstrable facts that prove that Bin Laden was actually behind the attacks.
The document states: "At least three of them have already been positively identified as associates of the Al Qaeda. One has been identified as playing key roles in both the East African embassy attacks and the USS Cole attack."
American investigators have now identified this key suspect as being Khalid al-Mihdhar. In an article dated October 7, the Guardian reported that Khalid al-Mihdhar is "the man Tony Blair referred to as a key link connecting Osama bin Laden to the Pentagon attack and the bombings of the USS Cole last year and the two US embassies in East Africa in 1998."
However, the Guardian states that there is still much confusion about this person's identity as it is believed that he was using several aliases and that American investigors "are not even certain that his name is really Khalid al-Mihdhar."
The article adds: "Still, it is believed that al-Mihdhar took Seat 12B on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon." Therefore, although there is doubt about the identity of al-Mihdhar, investigators are still claiming that he is the missing link between the attacks and Bin Laden.
Things become more complicated. On September 27, the Arab News reported that a young Saudi computer programmer by the name of Khalid Al-Mihammadi received "the shock of his life when he saw that his picture was among the suspects who had hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon in Washington on Sept. 11." Although Al-Mihmmadi had been studying English in the United States for a period of nine months, he had returned to Saudi Arabia earlier on in the year.
American investigators assert that an important meeting had been videotaped in Malaysia in late January 2000 involving people allegedly linked to the Al Qaeda. The Guardian article states: "As soon as it was determined that he had been at the Malaysian meeting, the appearance of al-Mihdhar there suddenly elevated his importance." It is very difficult to understand how American investigators can be so certain that this person is actually the one who was seen on this video when they do not have the correct visual identity of Al-Mihdhar to begin with. The picture that they have as being Khalid Al-Mihdhar who died on American Airlines Flight 77 is actually that of Khalid Al-Mihammadi, alive and well in Saudi Arabia.
Although American investigators had apparently been tracking his case for years, until recently, they were conjecturing about the concept of his existence. As regards the identity of Khalid Al Mihdhar, the Associated Press mentioned in an article on September 20 that "officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were exploring several possibilities. One was that Al-Mihdhar never entered the country and his name was simply used as an alias by one of the hijackers who died. Another possibility was that he allowed his name to be used on the flight by another hijacker, so that US officials might assume he died, giving him time to escape the country. A third was that he did in fact die in the crash as a hijacker."
The entire FBI case has been based upon the identities of the hijackers. However, judging by the information gathered so far, we do not really know who hijacked those airplanes as many of the identities seem to have been forged. Until that crucial variable is discovered, it is difficult to accurately assess who is behind the attacks.
In a new turn of events, the Bin Laden family, which has disowned their iniquitous son, have denied any reports that a reported telephone conversation between Osama and his mother ever took place. The Saudi Arabian Al-Madinah and Arab News newspapers have carried reports since October 4 that "a member of the Bin Laden family dismissed the New York Times report that Osama had talked with his mother while she was in Syria on her annual vacation and told her that he would not be able to talk with her again as massive events would take place during the next few weeks."
The family member added: "Osama did not communicate with his mother for the last several years and has not used a telephone since he discovered that his conversations were being electronically monitored by the United States, the source said." Furthermore, the article added: "The US newspaper was also wrong when it said Osama talked to his 'stepmother', because this woman is in fact his real mother."
The writer's intention is not to defend any possible guilty parties; it is instead to renew a critical look at the evidence which we have been given so that the true perpetrators of the attacks upon innocent civilians may be brought to account for what they have done, whether it be Bin Laden, or other than him. Nor is it an attempt to examine any incidents other than the two terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center and that which is directly related to it.
Source: Website of the Independent Media Center
Published on Serendipity, 2001-10-27 CE.
Many thanks to W.F. for sending a copy of the web page.
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