Boeknotities: Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror door Peter Lance

zo, 26/01/2020 - 19:48

Onderzoeksjournalist Peter Lance bespreekt in zijn boek het onderzoek van de 9/11 Commissie. Zijn bevindingen zijn vernietigend.

  • De tijdspanne die werd onderzocht was te beperkt:
    One reason that the 9/11 Commission came up with only half of the story is that the staff chose to limit its investigation to the late 1990s—by which time the plot was fully operational. A true appreciation of the continuing danger that al Qaeda poses to America requires an examination of the roots of bin Laden’s first brickand- mortar al Qaeda cell, the members of which were fully known to the FBI more than fifteen years ago.
  • Op zijn minst had het onderzoek moeten beginnen met de eerst aanslag op de twin towers in 1993:
    Over four successive weekends in July 1989, the FBI’s Special Operations Group (SOG) followed groups of Middle Eastern men (known as ME’s) from the Alkifah Center at the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, to a rifle range in Calverton, Long Island. Firing AK-47s and other semi-automatic weapons, the Islamic cell members were captured in dozens of photographs by the FBI surveillance team. Of the men caught on film by the SOG, one—El Sayyid Nosair—went on to kill right-wing Jewish Rabbi Meier Kahane in 1990.14 Three of them— Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh, and Nidal Ayyad—went on to serve as Yousef’s co-conspirators in the 1993 WTC bombing.15 Another—Clement Rodney Hampton-El—was convicted in the 1993 Day of Terror plot to blow up the bridges and tunnels around Manhattan.16 And their leader—Ali Mohammed, an ex-Egyptian Army officer then serving as a Sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces—went on to train Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard in Khost, Afghanistan in 1996, and personally surveilled the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, taking the pictures bin Laden himself used to pinpoint the locations of truck bombs that killed  people and wounded more than four thousand17 in 1998.18 The FBI’s thick file of Calverton surveillance photos offered a kind of class yearbook of the terrorist cell that would threaten the United States throughout the next twelve years. For unknown reasons, however, by the fall of 1989 the Bureau terminated its surveillance of the MEs from the Al Farooq mosque. Had they pressed further, the FBI might have discovered that the Alkifah Center, on the first floor of the mosque, was the New York outpost for the Services Office network, also known as MAK. Since the mid-1980s, the MAK had been taking in millions of dollars a year as the primary funding conduit for Osama bin Laden’s “Afghan Arabs,” fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. By 1988, the Saudi billionaire had morphed the worldwide network of MAK locations into a burgeoning new terror network. He called this network “the base” or “the foundation,” translated in Arabic as “al Qaeda.”19 Once the Soviet “infidels” had been defeated, the network was rededicated to a violent worldwide “jihad,” or holy war. And this time its bloodthirsty efforts were directed at Western nations—particularly the United States, which was clearly a growing, and unwelcome, presence in the Islamic world.
    Egyptian radicals like Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, Mohammed Atef,20 and the blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel
    Rahman had supported bin Laden in a coup that usurped the MAK cash machine from Abdullah Azzam,21 a
    Palestinian scholar who was killed along with his two sons in November of 1989.22 Bin Laden, who feigned
    grief at their deaths, was a prime suspect in the murders, and once the Azzams were eliminated, he turned the worldwide string of brick and mortar MAK centers into local al Qaeda outposts. The Alkifah Center was the site of another coup d’etat that took place after bin Laden sent Sheikh Rahman to the United States, where he slipped past a Watch List in 1990.23 Picked up by Mahmud Abouhalima, the six-foot-two, red-headed Egyptian and Calverton shooter who became his driver, the Sheikh soon began preaching at three New York area mosques and laying plans to topple Mustafa Shalabi, the Egyptian who ran the Alkifah Center.
    After being wounded in a shootout following the murder, Nosair was arrested. When the FBI and NYPD detectives raided his home in New Jersey, they found Abouhalima and Salameh, two more Calverton shooters, and seized them as material witnesses. That night the Feds also confiscated 47 boxes of evidence—a virtual treasure trove that included bomb receipts, pictures of the World Trade Center, and tapes of the blind Sheikh threatening the “high world buildings” and “edifices of capitalism.” More extraordinary, they found top secret manuals from the Army’s Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and secret memos linked to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with 1,440 rounds of ammunition.25
    “If there was ever evidence of an international terrorism conspiracy,” says retired U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Gonzalez, “this was it.”26 But after NYPD chief of detectives Joseph Borelli, who was eager to avoid a “show trial,” declared the Kahane hit a “lone gunman” shooting, the evidence got passed back and forth between  the Feds and the cops—to the point where it became effectively inadmissible. Because of a shortage of Arabic translators, the Sheikh’s threatening tapes weren’t transcribed into English until after the Trade Center bombing in 1993. Meanwhile, Abouhalima and Salameh, who became two of Yousef’s closest cohorts in the bomb plot, were released that night in 1990, and bin Laden’s New York cell continued to prosper.
    The impact of this early warning cannot be understated. One of the major revelations of the 9/11 Commission in its final report was that a 1998 Presidential Daily briefing, revealed a plot by the IG to hijack a plane to free Sheikh Rahman, who was then in U.S. custody. There was proof in the FBI files seven years earlier of the importance of the blind cleric to bin Laden’s worldwide jihad.30 But senior management in the Bureau’s New York office simply failed to connect the dots.
  • "failure to connect the dots": een almaar weerkerend fenomeen, jarenlang, tot en met 9/11 zelf. Intussen kon de FBI ook al niet profiteren van de aanwezigheid van een eigen agent in de "plot":
    Having an asset like Salem inside the Sheikh’s cell was an extraordinary intelligence opportunity for the FBI. Sheikh Rahman was beloved of bin Laden. The Saudi billionaire later adopted two of the Sheikh’s sons, and he was fiercely loyal to the Sheikh for siding with him along with Egyptians al Zawahiri and Atef in his elimination of Abdullah Azzam. Now, based on his dangerous undercover dealings with the Sheikh, Salem was predicting that there would be “blood in this city” if the cleric wasn’t stopped. But the FBI soon squandered the chance when Carson Dunbar, an FBI administrative special agent in charge (ASAC), was assigned to run the New York office’s terrorism unit. An ex-New Jersey state trooper with little experience in the field and no background in counter-terrorism, Dunbar quickly proceeded to alienate Salem, demanding that he take multiple polygraphs, even after he had proven his reliability. Even worse, ASAC Dunbar insisted that Salem wear a wire, and that he agree to testify in open court.36 But Salem, who had family in Egypt, was extremely fearful of the Sheikh. From the start of his arrangement with the Bureau he had insisted on serving as a pure intelligence asset, with the understanding that he stay permanently.
    So Salem politely withdrew. Given three months to find another paying job, he met in the fall of 1992 with agent Floyd to receive his last pay envelope. By that time, having lost the trusted Salem, Sheikh Rahman contacted Pakistan, and Ramzi Yousef was sent to New York City. Suddenly a bona fide bomb maker had entered the heart of the Sheikh’s cell. And soon the ambitious Yousef had escalated Nosair’s “twelve Jewish locations” plot into the World Trade Center bombing conspiracy.
  • Al een eerste "cock-up" van de commissie:
    As we’ll see in Chapter 17, one of the 9/11 Commission’s most astonishing lapses was the staff’s dismissal of this evidence—backed by PNP files—which proved that Osama bin Laden himself bankrolled the Yousef-KSMMurad-Shah Philippines cell; evidence that in two months working out of the Dona Josefa apartments, Yousef spawned not only the Bojinka and Pope plots, but the 9/11 attacks.
    Later, an interrogation of Yousef’s partner Abdul Hakim Murad would reveal the details of the suicide-airliner hijacking attacks ultimately carried out on 9/11. Before that plot could be realized, however, Yousef designed the Bojinka plan. Eventually described by Federal prosecutors as “48 Hours of Terror,” the plot involved the smuggling of Yousef’s Casio “bomb triggers” aboard American jumbo jets leaving Asia. This was not a suicide scenario. The plan was to use aircraft flying in two stages. Each of the conspirators would board on the first leg of each flight, assemble the devices, plant them and exit the aircraft only to repeat the process three more times over two days. Designed to avoid detection by airport screeners, the devices would be placed under seats where life jackets were stored, and be timed to detonate on the second leg long after the bombers had left the planes. It was Yousef’s intent to place the bomb triggers over the center wing fuel tanks of the Boeing 747-100s so that the Casio-nitro devices would act as improvised “blasting caps” to ignite the jet fuel and blow the tanks. Later refined by Yousef, the plan ultimately called for the plotters to board eleven flights over a fortyeight-hour period.† Yousef, who had as many as a dozen aliases himself, created clandestine code names for the plotters: Obaid, Zyed, Markoa, Majos, and Mirqas.* He created intricate flight schedules for the plot, which would require precise timing, and stored all of the details on his Toshiba laptop. The bomb maker, who always showed a flair for the dramatic, used the same laptop to create elaborate fake IDs for the plotters. In a part of the Bojinka schedule later recovered by the PNP, Yousef put his own TOP SECRET designation on the time schedule for the elaborate two-day plot.
    The transcript of that session, which showed up as part of the evidence in the 1996 Bojinka trial of Yousef, Murad, and Shah, created a great misconception within the U.S. intelligence community that continues to this day. Not only did the Congressional Joint Inquiry repeat the “small plane into CIA” story, concluding that “the plans to crash a plane into CIA headquarters and to assassinate the Pope were only at the discussion stage,”12 but the 9/11 Commission staff also gave it credence: “Two of the [Bojinka] perpetrators had also discussed the possibility of flying a small plane into the headquarters of the CIA.”13 As noted in 1000 Years for Revenge, the almost casual uncertainty of Mendoza’s briefing memo left the public impression that Murad had said little that would suggest a direct connection to the 9/11 attacks. One former intelligence official, quoted in the Washington Post, noted that it was a real leap from “stealing a Cessna to commandeering a 767.”
    the videotaped interview, which I submitted to the 9/11 Commission following my testimony, Mendoza insisted that Murad had told him that “the plan is to hijack airliners.” Three targets, he said, were initially mentioned, including the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and a nuclear facility. The plot would be accomplished by hijacking commercial airliners, not a small plane as was mentioned in the January 20 debriefing memo. Murad himself had boasted to Mendoza about his extensive training in U.S. flight schools.
    In an interview with correspondent Maria Ressa of CNN, Rigoberto “Bobby” Tiglao, the spokesman for then-Philippines President Ramos, expanded Murad’s confessed list of targets to include the World Trade Center and two of America’s tallest buildings, the Sears Tower in Chicago, and the pyramid-shaped Transamerica Tower in San Francisco.15 And while other intelligence authorities, including ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, have often confused the Bojinka plot with Yousef’s 9/11 scenario,16 Mendoza insisted that the two plots were distinct. “Murad is talking about a plan that is separate from Bojinka,” Mendoza said. “Murad is talking about pilot training in the U.S., and Murad is talking about the expertise of Yousef. Not only was this a parallel plot to Bojinka, but what is the motive of Murad to have flight training in the U.S., and who are the other pilots met by Murad in the U.S.?"
    As we’ll review in Chapter 18, the Staff of the 9/11 Commission has chosen to ignore Mendoza’s evidence, alleging that the idea for the 9/11 plot “appears to have originated with KSM.”18 Quoting Khalid Shaikh himself in Staff Statement #16, they assert that the 9/11 plot was conceived by Mohammed, and presented to bin Laden, two years after Murad told Mendoza Yousef had first planned it. While admitting that skyscrapers on the West Coast were originally intended targets along with the CIA, Pentagon, World Trade Center, a nuclear facility, the White House and Congress, Mohammed—who appears to be the Commission's sole source for the assertion—seems to now be distancing himself from his brilliant nephew Yousef. “One of the questions I would ask,” says terrorism researcher Paul Thompson, author of the Center for Cooperative Research’s extraordinary timelines of the events surrounding 9/11, “is why would Abdul Hakim Murad, one of Yousef’s oldest friends, have attended four U.S. flights schools to get his commercial pilot’s license as early as 1992 if the 9/11 plot wasn’t even conceived of until four years later?"
  • De 9/11 Commissie negeerde dus de bewijzen dat Youssef de bedenker was van de 9/11 aanvallen en niet zijn oom KSM. Waarom? Misschien omdat er aanwijzingen waren dat hij het opnieuw via explosieve zou proberen en niet via het crashen van vliegtuigen?
    Given that the Commission seems to be relying on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s word to pinpoint the origin of the 9/11 plots, two additional pieces of evidence are worth considering. First: when Murad was being rendered back to the United States following the conclusion of Mendoza’s interrogation, he predicted to FBI agents that Yousef had the Twin Towers in his sights: As FBI agents Frank Pellegrino and Thomas Donlon noted in an FBI 302 transcribed on May 11, 1995, “MURAD advised that RAMZI wanted to return to the United States in the future to bomb the World Trade Center a second time.”19 Three months earlier, after his capture in Islamabad, Pakistan, Yousef was in a Sikorsky helicopter, surrounded by Federal agents, as the chopper approached the brightly lit World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. Though there are conflicting accounts of precisely what was said, one witness told Newsweek that one of the FBI agents lifted Yousef’s blindfold and gestured toward the Twin Towers.20 “See,” he said, “You didn’t get them after all.” Yousef reportedly eyed him, then fidgeted in his heavy cuffs and snapped back: “Not yet.”21 The truth of Yousef’s true connections to al Qaeda might have remained locked away inside FBI files. But soon he was reunited with Murad, Wali Khan, and Eyad Ismoil, his World Trade Center bombing co-conspirator, when they were all housed on the secure 9th floor tier of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), the federal jail in Lower Manhattan.
  • Over Youssef's proces:
    Determined to see his Bojinka plot fulfilled, Yousef was anointing Greg Scarpa Jr. as his new co-conspirator. But there was one factor he hadn’t counted on: the man he’d selected as his new accomplice was the son of the highest-level known mob informant in the history of the FBI. And running numbers wasn’t the only thing he’d learned from his father.
    The Bojinka trial opened on May 25, then, the Feds knew from Scarpa that the bomb maker had prosecutor Garcia and a judge on his hit list. As the days passed in May, though, Yousef spilled the details of an even more shocking terror plot. In the almost weekly kites from Yousef, which Scarpa dutifully copied verbatim or photographed, he began to amass intelligence on al Qaeda as detailed and compelling as the finest bugs ever installed by the FBI in the apartment above John Gotti’s social club in the 1980s. “It was weapons grade plutonium,” said one former FBI agent who examined the material in preparation for this book.7 “And it was also a blueprint that could have led the Bureau not just to Yousef’s role in the crash of TWA Flight 800, but to 9/11 as well.”
  • Condi Rice doet alsof haar neus bloed en de FBI mist nogmaals een opportuniteit (die verdomde dots toch):
    (Condi) Rice stressed to the Commission that “if we had known that an attack was coming against the United States, that an attack was coming against New York and Washington, we would have moved heaven and earth to stop it.” Yet, as the extraordinary Scarpa-Yousef file amply demonstrates, the bomb maker made repeated threats of al Qaeda hijackings if he and his cohorts—including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman—weren’t freed from prison. The August 6, 2001, PDB characterized as unconfirmed “sensational threat reporting” a 1988 foreign intelligence report that “Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of ‘Blind Shayk’ ’Umar ’Abd al- Rahman and other US-held extremists.”16 The final 9/11 Commission report released on July 22, 2004 also revealed an identical threat from a 1998 PDB sent to President Clinton. Yet, as the FBI files prove, Yousef had made the precise threat to Scarpa almost two years earlier. But once again, Rice and other top national security officials seemed unaware of the intelligence.
    But as it turned out, rather than speaking Arabic, which the Feds were prepared for, Yousef spoke in Urdu and Baluchi, two of the six languages he used. And, as Scarpa reported later, the bomb maker was apparently able to get key information out to his conspirators before he could be stopped.19 One of the people Yousef spoke to via the Feds’ phone link was his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the fourth Bojinka co-conspirator, who was still at large at the time. In 1996, KSM, as he was known to the Feds, was hiding out in Doha, the capital of Qatar on the Persian Gulf. FBI documents would later reveal that Qatari officials believed Mohammed was constructing an explosive device at the time.20 The Joint Congressional Inquiry concluded that a “link to KSM was made when Yousef…made a call from detention to Qatar and asked to speak with ‘Khalid.’”21 The number Yousef called, as it turned out, was similar to one found by the Philippines National Police when it raided Yousef’s Dona Josefa bomb factory and seized his Toshiba laptop.22 An FBI 302 dated May 13, 1996, shows that the Feds were so anxious to facilitate Yousef’s outside calls that one female counselor at the MCC asked him if he needed a phone, and offered to let him use the one in her office.23 But at the time the counselors’ phones were reportedly down, so in a May 16, 1996, 302 it was noted that a Lieutenant Desman (of the Bureau of Prisons) was “working on the phones to make it easier [for Yousef] to call out.”24 By May 28, Yousef told Scarpa that he wanted his “people to call in three bomb threats to UNITED AIRLINES international flights” in the same week. “The purpose,” according to Scarpa, was to “cause disturbance and fear among people flying airplanes” and to “cause financial problems for the airline.”25 That same 302 alerted the Feds to the fact that Yousef was willing to set up a meeting “between one of [Yousef’s] people and one of SCARPA’s people on the outside.” Considering what we now know—that Yousef’s uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was actively working at the time on the hijack-airliners-suicide plot that resulted in the 9/11 attacks—this was an extraordinary intelligence opportunity for the Feds.
  • Was Youssef betrokken bij het neerhalen van TWA 800:
    When the FBI and NYPD raided the Brooklyn apartment of two Islamic radicals accused of attempting to bomb New York’s subways, they recovered a note that not only took credit for the downing of TWA 800, but demanded the release of Ramzi Yousef.8 In yet another unexpected convergence in a story ripe with them, the judge presiding at the trial of the reputed subway bombers, Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar and Lafi Khalil, was Reena Raggi—the same judge who years earlier had ordered Mohammed Ajaj’s bomb manuals returned prior to the WTC bombing. (Several months later, in the fall of 1998, Raggi would preside over the case of Greg Scarpa Jr. himself.) Perhaps the most telling evidence of Yousef’s connection to the crash, however, came in an FBI 302 memo dated July 24, 1996. A week after the plane went down, FBI agents who interviewed Greg Scarpa wrote: “SCARPA advised that before the cell rotations MURAD stated that he feels that they may get a mistrial from the publicity surrounding the TWA explosion.”9
    But on August 22, the day before the Times story broke, Kallstrom was summoned to Washington, D.C., for a high-level meeting with FBI Director Louis Freeh. Also present was Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, who would go on to become one of the ten 9/11 Commissioners.29 Until that meeting, the FBI’s declaration of the TWA 800 crash as a crime seemed to be a foregone conclusion. But something was discussed among those top FBI and Justice Department officials that caused the Bureau to make a sudden 180-degree turn. By the time he returned to New York that day, Kallstrom was on the phone to Van Natta and the Times editors trying to get them to kill the bomb story. According to the AP’s Pat Milton, the FBI ADIC now felt that “to publish [the PETN] story would be a rush to judgment.”30 The next day, when the Times ran Van Natta’s piece under the headline “Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of Flight 800,” Kallstrom read a statement confirming the PETN discovery. But he cautioned that it was premature to link the explosives to the crash. Seeming to side with metallurgist Tobin and the NTSB, Kallstrom was now demanding “additional proof, such as explosive shock waves in salvaged metal.”31 “For whatever reasons,” says the FBI source, “the Bureau and Justice were gearing up to spin this thing away from a bombing plot to some kind of mechanical event.”32
  • Ook John O'Neill was betrokken bij het onderzoek naar TWA800 (over O'Neill: zie hier):
    By 1997, John O’Neill, the FBI’s chief counterterrorism official, who at first had suspected a Yousef connection, had been battered into accepting the mechanical theory. Even President Clinton’s terrorism czar, Richard Clarke—perhaps the most knowledgeable man in Washington when it came to the bin Laden threat—accepted the fuel tank ignition scenario. “In the days that followed,” wrote Clarke in his memoir Against All Enemies, “no intelligence surfaced that helped advance [a criminal theory in] the investigation.”41 The president himself was convinced. In his biography, My Life, Bill Clinton wrote: “On July 17, TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island, killing some 230 people. At the time everyone assumed—wrongly, as it turned out—that this was a terrorist act.”42 In another note of irony, John O’Neill, the FBI’s chief counterterrorism official, came to believe that the TWA 800 investigation was draining valuable Bureau resources from the war on terror. By the time he transferred from FBI Headquarters to run the National Security Division in New York, O’Neill started talking to ADIC Kallstrom about “an exit strategy.” 
    In fact, the FBI found the high explosives between the seventeenth and twenty-fifth rows, just over the center wing fuel tank on the right side of the aircraft, in a pattern consistent with the placement of one of Yousef’s Casionitro bomb triggers. More important, none of officer Burnett’s “aids” would explain the presence of nitroglycerine in the wreckage—the key explosive in Yousef’s PAL 434 wet test device. To make matters worse, no one in the FBI or the NTSB has ever been able to explain the presence of RDX on a curtain in the aft cargo hold, an area of the 747 that Burnett never visited.
    The explanation, of course, should have been clear to anyone familiar with the evidence the FBI had in its possession—evidence that points unmistakably to an explosion that was deliberate, not accidental. Consider the aggregate of the facts: Ramzi Yousef had set a wet-test bomb trigger aboard PAL 434 in an effort to explode the center wing fuel tank and down a 747-100. Weeks before the TWA 800 crash, Yousef had given Scarpa a kite featuring a schematic of the bomb trigger he had used in the PAL 434 blast. Yousef had boasted to Greg Scarpa Jr. that his “people” would explode a bomb aboard an aircraft to seek a mistrial in the ongoing Bojinka trial in New York. The FBI had provided Yousef with the Roma Corp patch-through phone link, which gave him the ability to contact his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the fourth Bojinka co-conspirator, who knew how to build the same kind of Casio-nitro device. The chemicals Yousef suggested to Scarpa were identical in nature to the chemicals found in the TWA 800 wreckage. The area of explosive residue coincided with Yousef’s positioning of the PAL 434 bomb trigger. The NTSB’s conclusion that an explosion in the center wing fuel tank was the ultimate cause of the TWA 800 crash. The new evidence on the K-9 dog test, which undercuts the FBI’s official explanation for the presence of high explosive residue in the TWA 800 wreckage.
  • De bewijzen lijken dus volgens Lance te suggeren dat TWA800 een terreuraanslag was van al-qaeda. Waarom moest dat worden toegedekt is de voor de hand liggende vraag. (Tussen haakjes, het antwoord van Peter Lance is heel onbevredigend)
    Taken together, the evidence strongly suggests that the first instincts of ADIC Kallstrom and JTTF chief Neal Herman were correct: the downing of TWA 800 was an act of al Qaeda terror—one that sapped the energy of hundreds of FBI agents and technicians for sixteen months, until their efforts were aborted in favor of a far less persuasive—but politically expedient—conclusion. This in turn caused John O’Neill, the FBI’s top bin Laden specialist to believe that they were being diverted from the war on terror—when, in fact, they were right in the middle of it. In light of these findings, the overpowering question is Why? Why would a seasoned criminal investigator like James Kallstrom defy his own instincts and side with the NTSB, when they have never produced any definitive proof of a mechanical cause for the fuel tank explosion? Why would he change course from near-certainty that a crime had been committed following the discovery of PETN, RDX, and nitro in the wreckage, to a hapless search for a cover story that turned an honest cop—who believes he did the test on a different aircraft—into a negligent handler of high explosives? Why would Kallstrom—who was floored by the quality of Scarpa’s intelligence from Yousef—prematurely end an investigation into the murder of 230 people and acquiesce to a Justice Department conclusion that ultimately called it a “scam” and a “hoax?” In the summer of 1996, at that critical point in the war on terror, why would the FBI turn down a chance to meet with active members of Ramzi Yousef’s al Qaeda cell in New York and abroad? Why not pay the $2,500 proposed by Yousef, allow FBI agents posing as mobsters to link with Yousef’s cell members, and track them all the way to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as he executed the hijack-airliners-suicide plot that culminated on September 11, 2001? In short, why would the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the New York office order the TWA 800 investigation to be terminated? What could James Kallstrom have possibly learned in that August 22, 1996, Washington meeting with FBI director Louis Freeh, attorney general Janet Reno, and deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick (now a 9/11 Commissioner) that ultimately led him to call the man who was running the TWA 800 probe at Calverton and tell him to “shut it down”?
    The evidence now suggests that the answers to those questions lay in an ends-justify-the-means decision made at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the FBI—a decision that concluded, in essence, that if Gregory Scarpa Jr. was found to be credible, a number of career-making criminal convictions might fall as a result. In the words of one Federal judge, up to nine cases might “unravel”14 and James Kallstrom’s New York FBI office would be rocked by the worst corrupt-agent scandal since Robert Hanssen was found to be selling secrets to the Russians. The evidence now points to a cover-up that began in 1996, during the Clinton presidency, but remains intact to this day on the watch of George W. Bush—one that the 9/11 Commission itself was alerted to in the course of its investigation, but chose to ignore.
    Three months later, by July 18, the DeVecchio scandal was eclipsed by the TWA 800 crash. Valerie Caproni, whose Eastern District office included the Long Island crash site, got as caught up in the incipient criminal probe as did James Kallstrom. But the linchpin between the two investigations remained Gregory Scarpa Jr. On one hand, Scarpa was sitting in jail, awaiting trial in Caproni’s office on RICO charges—waiting for a chance to become one of DeVecchio’s chief accusers as he prepared to tell the details of “Del’s” fourteen-year career as his father’s own “informant” inside the FBI. On the other hand, the younger Scarpa was supplying the FBI with extraordinary intelligence straight from Ramzi Yousef, the World Trade Center bomber who had threatened to cause a mistrial in the Bojinka case by getting a bomb planted aboard a U.S. airliner. The government faced a critical choice: to embrace Greg Scarpa Jr., or to cut him loose; to reveal the extraordinary leads he had received in his contact with Yousef, or to bury them in order to keep a string of mob cases from falling apart. The choice would be made at the highest levels of the Justice Department. And in the end—as happened at so many other points along the road to 9/11—America’s national security would be sacrificed in favor of political convenience. Faced with choosing the war on terror over organized crime, the FBI and the Justice Department decided to go with the mob.
  • Scarpa werd uiteindelijk vooroordeeld en diende zijn tijd uit te zitten in een bijzonder gevangenis:
    Greg Scarpa Jr., who was acquitted of five murder charges, got 482 months in solitary. Worse, he was ordered to do his time in the Administrative Maximum Security (ADMAX) Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, a subterranean penitentiary that is considered the toughest prison in the U.S. federal system. Also known as Supermax, it’s home to some of the most lethal criminals ever convicted—including Terry Nichols, twice convicted in the Oklahoma City bombing, and Unabomber Ted Kaczinski. Today, the prison also houses Ramzi Yousef himself—after drawing a 240-year sentence from Judge Duffy in 1998 following his conviction in both the Bojinka and World Trade Center bombing trials, the master bomber was relocated to the same facility as the mobster who once conspired with the FBI to bring him down. “It’s an absolute outrage that Greg Scarpa Jr. should be doing four decades in the same jail as the man behind the Trade Center bombing and Bojinka,” says Silverman. “Especially when we only now have a full understanding of the quality of intelligence he was furnishing to the Feds.”
    There’s no question that the intel from Yousef was genuine. Not only did Ramzi’s May 19, 1996, bomb formula match precisely with the details of his Casio-nitro bomb trigger—a design unknown to anyone outside of U.S. and Philippines intelligence —but Scarpa got details from Yousef about Ramzi’s capture in Islamabad on February 7, 1995, that could only have come from the master bomber himself.
  • Alles werd genegeerd door de Commissie:
    In April 2004, hoping that someone in official Washington would pay attention to their findings, Clemente and Dresch brought their evidence to the House Government Reform Committee.* They also sent a time line detailing their findings to the 9/11 Commission.13 While they had several tentative Capitol Hill meetings with the Reform Committee staff, they have been ignored by the Commission. “One would think that evidence linking Ramzi Yousef to the crash of TWA Flight 800 might be relevant to the Commission,” she says. “It’s clear now that Yousef and his uncle [Khalid Shaikh Mohammed] were involved in both attacks on the World Trade Center, but since we submitted our material to the Commission [on] April 5, we’ve heard nothing.” And therein lies the key: By ignoring the research of independent investigators like Angela Clemente and Dr. Stephen Dresch, the federal government is continuing its pattern of covering up the truth about the long road of negligence that led inexorably to 9/11. At first blush, it may seem difficult to accept that so random an event as an obscure Brooklyn mob hit could have been one of the signposts along that road. Yet consider: If the FBI hadn’t been afraid to expose the involvement of one of its own agents, R. Lindley DeVecchio, in that murder, Gregory Scarpa Jr., might never have been unfairly discredited as a witness. And if Scarpa’s evidence of Ramzi Yousef’s involvement in the TWA 800 crash had been allowed in court—and pursued aggressively by the FBI— Yousef’s hijacked-airliners suicide plot might have been identified years before its culmination in 9/11, with its mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed brought to ground. From DeVecchio to Scarpa to Yousef to KSM: Only four degrees of separation stood between the FBI and the nascent 9/11 plot—five years before it was set in motion. Yet none of this has ever been addressed, at least in public, by the 9/11 Commission. That body’s disregard for Clemente’s and Dresch’s findings only corroborates what we have learned in this investigation: that evidence linking Ramzi Yousef to 9/11 has been systematically excluded from the Commission’s carefully censored account of the attacks. In the second half of this book, we’ll examine how the Commission—charged with getting to the truth about the greatest act of terror on American soil—has failed in its mission.
  • Waarom moest de info over KSM geheim gehouden worden?
    Of the four and one half pages devoted to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in the Joint Inquiry’s report, more than half were blocked out for security reasons. This underscores how little information was given to the general public about the man the FBI has pegged as the driving force behind 9/11.
  • Vragen over de Commissie nog voor het aan het onderzoek begon:
    “Once the Commission was set up formally, we started asking questions,” says Breitweiser. (Over Breitweisers boek: zie hier) “Like what about the FBI? How did they get the pictures of the nineteen hijackers so soon after the event? Had they been tracking them? What about the allegations of insider trading—that there had been unusually high put options taken in the stock of American and United airlines in the days prior to the attacks, betting that the stock would go down? Who had prior knowledge of the attacks? And what about the relationship of the Saudis to the Bush family? These were issues we felt needed to be examined.
    But the next major hurdle for the Commission was funding. By the spring of 2003, after an initial startup appropriation of only $3 million, the White House was stalling on a crucial $11 million funding request that would have kept the Commission going through its original target date for completion of its report: May 27, 2004. As a point of comparison, $50 million was earmarked for the investigation into the crash of the space shuttle Columbia, in which seven people died.10 “The administration was tying the Commission’s hands at almost every turn,” says Kyle Hence, co-chair of 9/11 Citizens Watch, an independent watchdog group. “By the summer of 2003, even the Wall Street Journal11 was reporting that the Commission investigators were only getting a small portion of the documents they’d asked for from the White House. The staff had just begun conducting interviews and that was, what? Seven months after they’d been set up with an eighteen-month out date.” The White House resistance became so acute that Commission investigators were denied access to the full declassified 800-plus-page report of the Joint Inquiry until late spring, leading Sen. John McCain, one of the original sponsors of the Commission, to declare, “While I don’t want to believe such a basic lack of cooperation was intentional, it nonetheless creates the appearance of bureaucratic stonewalling.”12 McCain had originally pushed for a two-year investigation. The White House demanded twelve months, and they reached a compromise at eighteen. But this didn’t sit well with the families. “When is the last time you ever heard of a homicide investigation being closed-ended?” asks Beverly Eckert,* whose husband, Sean Rooney, spoke to her on his cell phone up until minutes before he perished in the South Tower.13 “The Commission was almost set up to fail, with all of the limitations that were placed on it in terms of budget and time.” By early July, even moderates Kean and Hamilton were expressing their exasperation. In an interim report on July 8, 2003, they complained that the “Administration underestimated the scale of the Commission’s work and the full breadth of support required.”14 The report was particularly critical of the Pentagon, where document requests relating to NORAD had received no response. “The problems that have arisen so far with the DOD are becoming particularly serious,” said the report. Commission staffers also complained that “agency representatives” or “minders” were present during interviews. “How much candor can you expect from an FAA flight controller when his boss is breathing down his neck?” said a confidential source on the Commission staff. “It was a joke.”15 “We were starting to get worried after that first report,” said Mindy Kleinberg, “but by October, when we found out who Zelikow really was, we hit the ceiling.”
  • De show werd gerund door Philip Zelikow. David Ray Griffin is correct wanneer hij de 9/11 Commissie de Zelikow-Commissie noemt, en dat is zeer problematisch:
    “If he’s looking at the NSC, that means he’s investigating himself,” said Lorie van Auken at the time.17 “What an incredible conflict,” said Mindy Kleinberg. “The evidence was pointing to a series of key memos in the summer of 2001 including the August 6th PDB and Condi was at the heart of that. How could we expect Zelikow to fairly investigate his own friend and colleague?” In a letter to the Commission, the FSC demanded that Zelikow recuse himself “from any aspect of national security and executive branch negotiations and investigations.” If he was unwilling to do so, they insisted, Zelikow should resign.18 But Kean and Hamilton rejected the FSC’s demand for Zelikow’s resignation, saying that Zelikow had previously agreed to recuse himself from NSC issues relating to the Clinton-Bush transition. “That wasn’t enough,” said Kristen Breitweiser. “The performance of the National Security Council was a crucial issue before this Commission, and eventually, when the White House stonewalled on access to NSC documents, who ended up being one of the two commission people with full access? Philip Zelikow.”
  • Maar de "conflict of interest"-lijst is nog maar net begonnen:
    The other Commissioner who was appointed to see all documents was former Clinton Justice Department deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, the Commissioner who had attended the 1996 Washington meeting that led to the shutdown of the TWA 800 investigation. 
  • De deal over de toegang tot documenten was ontoereikend:
    But the deal on access to classified documents struck by the Commission and the White House caused an even greater firestorm in the 9/11 victims’ rights community. It was struck after the White House balked on the release of “very sensitive” documents, and the Commission threatened to subpoena them.19 “We called it the two-to-four-to-ten deal,” said Patty Casazza. “Instead of allowing all ten Commissioners to go in and examine key documents like the President Daily Briefing of August 6th, they set up this system in which Zelikow and Gorelick would go in and then Kean and Hamilton would review their report, which could be edited by the White House. Then this final version would get seen by everybody.”
    Admitting that he went along with the compromise “because we are under tremendous time pressure,” Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor the widows had expected to be a firebrand, acquiesced. At the time he acknowledged that the deal allowed the staff “minimum acceptable access.”20 “But that was the very problem,” says Mindy.
  • De hoorzittingen waren een grap:
    The widows were further stunned when they learned that in almost a year the Commission staff had not issued a single subpoena or taken a word of testimony under oath in open session. Instead, its early public hearings had been largely “informational” one, on Terrorism, Al Qaeda, and the Muslim World, included the testimony of a discredited scholar who was a key advocate for the false assertion leading up to the Iraqi invasion that Saddam Hussein had been tied to the 1993 WTC bombing and the 9/11 attacks.
  • Meer over Zelikow:
    The source, who had a heavy law enforcement background, revealed that of the eight “teams” set up to investigate various aspects of the attack by December 2003 (five months before the final report was due), only one, which he described as the “New York Team,” had issued subpoenas. It was run by John Farmer, a former New Jersey attorney general who was close to chairman Tom Kean. “The other teams are completely controlled by Zelikow down in D.C.,” he said.22 “Farmer is really butting heads with him,” said the source. “Zelikow is calling the shots. He’s skewing the investigation and running it his own way. What’s worse, none of the other team leaders talk to the Commissioners. Farmer is the only one who deals with the Commissioners, because he has relationship with Kean.”
  • De media waren niet geïnteresseerd:
    By the late fall of 2003, the media seemed largely uninterested in the Commission’s work. “The hearing we had November 19 on Emergency Preparedness was in New Jersey,” said Monica Gabrielle, who testified with Sally Regenhard. “But not one of the major New York TV stations even crossed the river to cover it. The networks were AWOL. The New York Times wasn’t there.
  • Max Cleland stapt op uit protest:
    Within two weeks of that interview, the New York Times announced that Cleland would resign from the Commission to take a position on the board of the Export-Import Bank. His name had been submitted months earlier by Senate Democrats, but it was only after his open attacks on the Bush Administration that the White House sent his nomination to the Senate.26 The Family Steering Committee had lost its strongest advocate for full disclosure on the Commission.
  • Nog meer problemen:
    At the time, in early December, there was minor support for an extension among congressman on Capitol Hill, but the White House was holding fast to the Commission’s original deadline. Then moderate Republican Tom Kean, the Commission’s chairman, made a surprising statement. In an interview with CBS News on December 17, he suggested that the 9/11 attacks might have been preventable. “As you read the report,” Kean said, “you’re going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn’t done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen.”3 Even more surprising, from the mild-mannered Kean, was the suggestion that those at fault should be held accountable. “There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed,” he said. That interview provoked allusions to Watergate. The headline in one piece two days later was “What did Bush know and when did he know it?”
  • Zelikow/Gorlick, cont.
    Three days later, the New York Times revealed that both Phillip Zelikow and Jamie Gorelick had been questioned as witnesses by their own Commission staff.6 “Investigators interviewed [Zelikow] to learn how much information the incoming administration had about the possibility of a major attack,” said the piece, “and what steps it took to guard against that threat.”
    Gorelick told Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen that she had been interviewed about her involvement in terrorism policy while Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration. But the Times piece pointed up the conflict in which the Commission had found itself. “Mr. Zelikow’s arrangement [to recuse himself] has caused concern among some commission officials because the man responsible for day to day operations of the panel will be removed from what could be an important part of its inquiry.” On one hand Zelikow was supposed to remove himself from NSC-related matters that related to his White House tenure. Yet he was one of only two Commission representatives with full access to all the files. “By this point they should have put Zelikow’s picture in the dictionary next to the word ‘conflict,’” says Lorie van Auken. “I don’t know how you put it any other way,” says Monica Gabrielle, “Phil Zelikow was the fox guarding the chicken coop.”

    The issue of full disclosure became even more acute months later, when the New York Times broke another story revealing that the Bush White House was blocking the Commission from access to more than nine thousand pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from the Clinton years.7 And by mid-January 2004, when the Commission formally requested an extension from President Bush and the Congress, the White House made it clear that it opposed the idea.8 A few days later, the Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reported that the Commission would be forced to scale back hearings as it rushed to complete interviews with up to two hundred additional witnesses and examine more than two million pages of documents by late May.
    After Clarke’s appearance, the floodgates opened. Despite White House opposition, Condoleezza Rice was forced to testify under oath. The controversial August 6 PDB was released. Then the Commission, which only three months earlier had contemplated cutting back hearings, heard twice from CIA Director George Tenet, along with the secretaries of state, FBI directors and joint chiefs of staff from both the Clinton and Bush administrations. The White House finally gave up on its restrictions to the Clinton documents, and the president himself submitted to questioning by all ten Commissioners in an informal meeting with Vice President Cheney on April 29.18
    But in a signal of just how seriously some of the Commissioners were taking the investigation, two Democrats left the three and one-half hour session early, leading to a banner New York Post headline: “Oval Office Insult: Two 9/11 Dems Walk Out on Bush.”19 “We were shocked,” said Monica. “After all the months we had pushed the White House for full disclosure and access, now two of the Democrats were sending this signal, like they didn’t seem to care. If the Pope had been in Washington that day and invited Kerrey and Hamilton to a special audience, they still should have stayed in front of the president and vice president questioning them.” “That walkout was a watershed event for us,” said Patty Casazza. “When it came to 9/11 we were starting to see that this Commission was ignoring key evidence embarrassing to the government, no matter what political party you belonged to. The word ‘cover-up’ doesn’t even seem to do it justice.”
    the weeks following Richard Clarke’s testimony, the panel had made strides in convincing the public that the Commission staff was leaving few stones unturned. Another Times piece, looking forward to the New York hearings in May, noted that “According to the Commission, some two dozen of its 80 staff members have read tens of thousands of documents, listened to hundreds of hours of audio tapes, including the 9/11 calls, and have conducted interviews with as many as 200 police, firefighters, civilians and Port Authority officials.”
  • De lijst van "tekortkomingen" is eindeloos:
    None of them discussed exactly why Congress, which performs an oversight function on the intelligence community, had failed to detect a hint of the 9/11 attacks in the years since 1991, when Osama bin Laden first established a beachhead in New York City. One extraordinary bit of “oversight” that was never mentioned in the declassified Joint Inquiry Report or the 9/11 Commission staff statements was a December 5, 1995, confidential memo to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-NV), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, from his staff. Titled “Investigation Into Terrorism,” the memo proposed that the Committee investigate “the FBI’s involvement before, during and after a terrorist threat and/or attack.” The Judiciary Committee staff reported that “We have information that some instances, like the World Trade Center [bombing in 1993], could have been prevented.” This underscored evidence in the 1995 Day of Terror trial, when tapes were played quoting Nancy Floyd’s undercover asset, Emad Salem, who believed that the FBI could have stopped Yousef before the 1993 Trade Center bombing.7 Knowing what we now know about the al Qaeda cell tied to Ramzi Yousef in 1996, that Senate investigation, if pursued at the time, would have given the Committee staff a much better sense of the al Qaeda threat. But that memo was never acted upon. No hearings were held on the staff’s recommendations, and no investigative body examining congressional oversight has mentioned it since.8 And there wasn’t a word about it in the 9/11 Commission report, which was critical of Congress for failing to properly oversee the intelligence community.
    “The point,” wrote Bergen, “is that the 1993 attack was plotted not by Iraqi intelligence, but by men who were linked to al Qaeda.” And he went on to make the case that al Qaeda is dominated not by Iraqis, but by Egyptian radicals, including Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. But the 9/11 Commissioners and staff allowed Mylroie to take up a substantial part of that third hearing, expounding a specious theory that supported the Bush Administration’s Iraqi invasion. In the end she concluded that “the major terrorist strikes against the U.S. that were attributed to ‘loose networks‘ of Islamic militants, including al Qaeda, are much better explained as Iraq, working with and hiding behind the militants.”
  • De hoorzittingen zijn een grap, vervolg:
    “I believe the president of the United States is responsible,” Gannon responded, “but I also believe that his major intelligence advisor should be and must be the Director of Central Intelligence as a single focus on the warning.” Earlier that day, the Commission had heard from two former CIA directors, James M. Schlesinger, who served under Gerald Ford, and John Deutch, who served from May 1995, when the Philippines National Police first learned of Ramzi Yousef’s involvement in the 9/11 plot, through December 1996, six months after the crash of TWA 800. While Deutch in his testimony recommended a sweeping reform of the U.S. intelligence community, 15 none of the Commissioners sought to ask him about his own knowledge of the 9/11 plotters at the time of his tenure. Monica Gabrielle, who attended the hearing, reflected the growing sense of skepticism at that time among the widows. “If, as Gannon, said, the buck should stop with the president and the CIA director, I was sitting there wondering why the Commissioners didn’t ask Deutch about his role in the intelligence failures that led to the attack.”
    Lorie van Auken, “you have to ask, what company ever could have gotten away with denying insurance claims at that point? But none of this mattered to us. We were sitting there at that hearing with pits in our stomachs, wondering whether this Commission which we had fought so hard to establish, was ever going to find out why our husbands had died.” It took another hearing, which included a lengthy analysis of the issue of “preventive detention” and the use of enemy combatant laws to combat terrorism, before the Commission finally went into high gear. “As far as we were concerned,” says Patty Casazza, “that entire first year—two thirds of this Commission’s existence—was a virtual waste.”
  • Mogelijke betrokkenheid SA:
    The staff statements also gave the Saudis what amounted to a free pass on 9/11,5 even though fifteen of thenineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and compelling evidence from the Philippines National Police (PNP) indicates that Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, the Saudi Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, funded the Manila Yousef-KSM cell that spawned the plots.6 As noted earlier, the Commission’s conclusion that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed began planning for the plot on his own in 1996 is based on Mr. Mohammed’s own reported allegations, and conflicts with a depth of intelligence furnished to the Justice Department by the PNP in 1995.
  • Staff Statements zijn van oneven kwaliteit (ze zelf doorgenomen kan ik alleen maar vaststellen dat sommigen niet meer zijn dan een "whitewash")
    the quality of the staff statements is uneven. Some provide a noholds- barred examination of lapses in intelligence and defense. Others offer a watered-down version of events, eliminating significant facts that were uncovered by the Joint Inquiry’s investigation or stated repeatedly in the media. But perhaps most significant in the eyes of the victims’ families, the statements fail to assess blame, or reach conclusions of fault.
  • Over de hoofdverdachte KSM:
    The most startling finding in this report is that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was indicted in 1996, got a legal visa to enter the United States on July 23, 2001, about six weeks prior to 9/11. “Although he is not a Saudi citizen,” said the staff, “and we do not believe he was in Saudi Arabia at the time, he applied for a visa using a Saudi passport and an alias, Abdulrahman al Ghamdi.” The visa was granted under the program known as Visa Express, designed to expedite the entry of Saudis into America. A number of the 9/11 hijackers took advantage of the program: Beginning in 1997 they submitted a total of twenty-four applications, and received twenty-four visas.
  • De CIA wordt ontzien:
    In this report the Commission staff goes particularly easy on the CIA when describing the extraordinary agency blunder in failing to fully report the surveillance of hijackers Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi at the January 2000 9/11 planning session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In fact, the description of the CIA performance is almost flattering. On getting advance notice of the meeting from the National Security Agency (NSA), the staff declares, “both CIA Headquarters and U.S. officials around the world began springing energetically into action.”8 This meeting would take on enormous significance later, when the CIA learned that one al Qaeda leader at the meeting was Khallad bin Atash, who ten months later would participate in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, which killed seventeen Americans. “CIA Headquarters asked NSA to put al Midhar on that agency’s watch list, which had limited effectiveness,” the report notes. “There was no other effort to consider the onward destinations of these Arabs and set up other opportunities to spot them.” Even a year later, when the CIA had learned that bin Atash had attended the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, nobody at the agency took the initiative to pick up the trail of al-Midhar and al-Hazmi, who were soon living openly in San Diego under their own names. The failure of the CIA and the FBI to connect the dots on two of the 9/11 hijackers who were on the agency’s radar twenty-one months before 9/11, was considered by the Joint Inquiry to be one of the most significant intelligence failures on the road to September 11. But the 9/11 Commission staff statement lets this incredible blunder go by in passing, without a rebuke to the CIA. Later in the statement, the staff notes that “The director of the Counterterrorism Center at the time, Cofer Black, recalled to us that this operation was one among many and that, at the time, ‘it was considered interesting, but not heavy water yet.’” Then, instead of chastising Black and the onetime head of his al Qaeda unit, the staff singles them out for praise, blaming “the system” rather then the men.
    Black, who is now counterterrorism coordinator for the State Department, predicted in January 2004 that 70 percent of the al Qaeda network had been neutralized. “They are being hunted down,” asserted Black; “their days are numbered.”10 His statement came two months before al Qaeda was connected to the Madrid train bombing, which killed 191 people and injured more than 1800.
  • Een ander staf statement is niet veel beter:
    This staff statement is fraught with lapses and contradictions. It begins with the assertion that: “No U.S. flagged aircraft had been bombed or hijacked in over a decade. Domestic hijacking in particular seemed like a thing of the past, something that could only happen to foreign airlines that were less well protected.” In fairness to the Commission staff, it did not yet have the new information on TWA 800 at the time the statement was issued. By early April, however, Angela Clemente and Dr. Stephen Dresch had presented their evidence to the Commission, citing the Scarpa-Yousef kites and FBI 302s; yet the staff made no mention of this information in later statements. Then, in Introduction, the staff contradicts its own later finding from Staff Statement No. 16 that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed began planning the 9/11 attacks in 1996. “Some time during the late 1990’s,” the statement says, “the al Qaeda leadership made the decision to hijack large, commercial multi-engine aircraft and use them as devastating weapons, as opposed to hijacking a commercial aircraft for use as a bargaining tool.”
  • Nog één:
    This statement not only ignores the evidence uncovered by Col. Mendoza of the PNP that Yousef and KSM hatched the plot in 1994, but runs counter to the findings of the Joint Inquiry, upon which the 9/11 Commission was expected to build. Below is a verbatim excerpt from the Joint Inquiry’s final declassified report, which describes in detail a dozen separate plots from 1994 to 2001 in which Islamic terrorists considered using aircraft as weapons....
  • Volgende:
    This statement offers a brief analysis of the security breaches that led to the 9/11 hijackers boarding the two Boeing 767s that hit the World Trade Center, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, as well as the two hijacked 757s: AA Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon, and UA Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The staff statement accepts the widely held belief that Flight 93 was brought down when a group of passengers stormed the cockpit; this would be contradicted by the Commission’s final report, which presented transcripts from Flight 93’s cockpit recorder, and suggested that the passengers never, in fact, made it into the cockpit, and that the hijackers downed the plane themselves. Neither account focuses on the conflicting evidence suggesting that the plane may have been shot down.
  • En nog:
    The Commission explains the presence of knives on board by noting that while FAA regulations at the time forbade passengers from bringing box cutters aboard, they were permitted to carry knives with blades up to four inches long. But the staff doesn’t explain how mace or a bomb, both clearly forbidden by FAA regulations, passed airport security. That question becomes important in light of a report in the Washington Post on March, 2, 2002 that nine of the 19 hijackers were selected for “special security screenings” before they boarded their flights, including two who were singled out because of irregularities in their IDs.13
  • Waren de inlichtingendiensten nu efficiënt of waren ze een stelletje klungelaars?
    In fact, the report describes a certain level of efficiency by U.S. intelligence agencies that belies the real depth of their failures leading up to 9/11. Case in point. The Commission’s description of the capture of Ramzi Yousef and the search for his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. We’ll contrast the verbatim conclusions of the staff statements with the facts as they have been uncovered by various reporters, lawyers, and investigators in the years since the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. All of this information, including the findings set forth in multiple al Qaeda related federal trials, was on the public record and available to the Commission staff.
    “The U.S. government believed that the World Trade Center attack of 1993 had been carried out by a ‘cell’ led by Abdul Basit Mahmud Abdul Karim, better known by his alias, Ramzi Yousef. Yousef had escaped and was a fugitive. By early 1995 he was also wanted for his participation in a plot to plant bombs on a dozen American airliners in the Far East. Yousef had fled to Pakistan. The United States learned where he was and, working effectively with Pakistani officials, carried out a rendition that sent him back to America for trial.”14 The facts: Yousef was apprehended due to some extraordinary luck and two significant factors: the accidental fire in Room 603 of the Dona Josefa apartments, which caused him to flee; and the confession of Istaique Parker, an Islamic South African “walk-in” to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, who decided to betray Yousef in return for a $2 million reward sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Rather than working “effectively” with Pakistani officials, sworn testimony in the Bojinka cases suggests another scenario. According to the testimony, Brad Garrett, a Washington-based FBI agent who had arrived in Islamabad the morning of the capture (looking for another suspect),15 was late arriving at the Su Casa guesthouse, where agents of the DEA and Diplomatic Security Services (working with the Pakistani ISI) had already removed Yousef.16 Then, apparently, Garrett failed to canvas the small guesthouse, which turned out to have been controlled by a nongovernmental organization (NGO) funded by Osama bin Laden. If he had done a routine canvas, Garrett might have come upon Yousef’s uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was staying in a downstairs room. In an audacious display of bravado, KSM actually gave an account of the Yousef takedown to a reporter for Time magazine, using his own name, “Khalid Shaikh.”17 Before Garrett could get there, however, the “mastermind of 9/11” escaped. Later, in a 60 Minutes II story, Garrett took personal credit for Yousef’s capture.
    The 9/11 Commission: In 1995, the United States also learned that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “KSM,” was living in Doha, Qatar, and was reportedly employed by a government agency there. The United States obtained other specific details that could have helped locate KSM, who was then sought as a suspect in the Ramzi Yousef airlines plot. Working with the U.S. ambassador in Doha, the FBI and CIA worked on how to capture KSM. But they were reluctant to seek help from the Qatari government, fearing that KSM might be tipped off. The U.S. government instead considered the option of capturing KSM without Qatari help. The available options were rejected as unwieldy and too risky. Therefore, after first waiting for a sealed indictment against KSM to be handed down by a New York grand jury, in January 1996 the U.S. government asked the Emir of Qatar for help. Qatari authorities first reported that KSM was under surveillance. They then asked for development of an alternative plan that would conceal their aid to Americans. They then reported that KSM had disappeared. KSM would later become a principal planner of the 9/11 attacks, and was captured in 2003. We do not know whether KSM was tipped off in 1996. The facts: What the Staff Statement doesn’t say is that while hiding out in Qatar, a major U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, KSM was believed to be staying under the protection of one Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, the interior minister of Qatar and a member of its ruling family. Al-thani was also the nation’s security chief. As first reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times,19 the story was later advanced by reporters for ABC News20 and the Los Angeles Times.21 According to their investigations, this is what actually happened: After former CIA case officer Bob Baer tipped the FBI to KSM’s presence in the Qatari capital, the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team was dispatched to Doha. But Qatari officials reportedly told the Feds that they wanted to “put the handcuffs” on Mohammed themselves. So while the U.S. agents cooled their heels waiting, al- Thani reportedly helped KSM to escape. He was spirited off to the Czech Republic with new fake ID in the name of Mustafa Nasir.22 Informed of this alleged betrayal by al-Thani, a senior official of a friendly government, Richard Clarke expressed shock. “You’re telling me that [al-Thani] is today in charge of security inside Qatar? I hope that’s not true,” said Clarke.23
    Consider that Doha, Qatar, was the location of CENTCOM, the Pentagon’s central command for the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. One of the Bush Administration’s primary justifications for the preemptive strike on Baghdad was Saddam Hussein’s alleged connection to al Qaeda and involvement in the 9/11 plot, which have since been disproved and denounced by the 9/11 Commission. But since these news reports in 2002 there has been evidence on the public record that a top ranking Qatari official may have been a co-conspirator in helping the 9/11 mastermind to flee. Still, the Commission makes no mention of al Thani or the incident in any of its staff statements, and only a glancing reference to the Qatari minister in its final report. It is unknown whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was aware of the al-Thani/KSM ties at the time the United States signed a cooperation agreement with Qatar to base its command there. But since KSM was then not only acting to perfect the 9/11 plot, but communicating with his nephew Ramzi, who was preparing to plant a bomb aboard a plane, the implications of Mohammed’s escape are immense. “This is a contradiction that boggles the mind, 
    And Rumsfeld himself admitted to the panel staff that “He did not recall any particular counterterrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11.” And yet by late July 2001, as noted in the very next Staff Statement, the intelligence community was receiving “indications of multiple, possibly catastrophic terrorist attacks being planned against American interests overseas.”2
  • Nog een staff statement van hoge kwaliteit:
    The Staff Statement paints a picture of an Administration whose various intelligence components seem disconnected from the impending al Qaeda threat. Describing the PDB, which at that point had not been declassified, the March 24, 2004, staff statement notes that “neither the White House nor the CSG received specific, credible information about any threatened attacks in the United States. Neither Clarke nor the CSG were informed about the August 2001 investigations that produced the discovery of suspected al Qaeda operatives in the United States. Nor did the group learn about the arrest or FBI investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui in Minnesota.” What the staff statement didn’t say was that CIA Director Tenet had received a report on Moussaoui—the flight student with al Qaeda ties who had paid instructors to teach him how to take off in a jumbo jet, but didn’t particularly care how to land. While the President was vacationing in Crawford, a report was forwarded to the DCI entitled “Islamic terrorist learns to fly.” A month earlier, on July 10, FBI Headquarters and the New York office had received the celebrated “Phoenix memo,” suggesting that Islamic pilots should be monitored in U.S. flight schools. Tenet later told the 9/11 staff that at that point in the summer “the system was blinking red.”5 Then, on September 4, barely a week before 9/11, Tenet attended a principals meeting with key intelligence officials including Richard Clarke, but incredibly, he failed to bring up the Moussaoui report.6 The staff statement ended on a chilling note. Just before that September 4 principals meeting, Richard Clarke wrote to Rice “summarizing many of his frustrations.” Like a counterterrorist Paul Revere, he “urged policymakers to imagine a day after a terrorist attack, with hundreds of Americans dead at home and aboard and ask themselves what they could have done earlier.” The statement makes no mention of any reply from the National Security Advisor. 
  • Hoe Condi Rice de Commissie probeert te ontwijken:
    this point in late March 2004, the staff of the 9/11 Commission seemed to be throwing the gauntlet down to Rice. While she had agreed to meet informally with staffers for a four-hour session in February, Rice had resisted any suggestion that she appear before the Commission in open session and under oath.7 Although she was clearly the linchpin of the Bush administration’s counterterrorist policies in the months leading up to the attacks, she remained off-limits to the Commission, even as she was pressing her views in the media, from an oped page piece to a session with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes.8 The day after that broadcast, the 9/11 Commission ratcheted up the confrontation with the White House. They were now demanding that Rice appear.
  • Wist de Bush-regering nu wel of niet dat terroristen vliegtuigen zouden gebruiken als WMD? Rice beweert van niet, Lance beweert van wel:
    Actually, there was substantial evidence from years earlier that terrorists were preparing to use planes as weapons of mass destruction. The Joint Inquiry had listed those twelve examples between 1994 and 2001, among them the Christmas 1994 hijacking of an Air France jumbo jet by Islamic radicals aligned with al Qaeda, which was aborted by French special forces police. But the plotters were overheard by passengers saying that their plan was to fly the big fuel laden Airbus into the Eiffel Tower. There was also the Philippines evidence as set forth in 1000 Years for Revenge, which Governor Kean had read. In January he had written to me that the Commission staff had read the book and “found it helpful.” By March 15, when I testified before the Commission in New York, the staff was well aware of Col. Mendoza’s discovery that the hijacking-airplanessuicide plot had originated in 1994. But neither Chairman Kean nor any of the other Commissioners thought to challenge Rice on her offhand characterizations of timing. Instead, she claimed that “this kind of analysis about the use of airplanes as weapons actually was never briefed to us.” Blaming her own apparent lapse on others, she concluded that “perhaps the intelligence agencies thought that the sourcing was speculative.”18 There was nothing speculative in the title of the Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” Nonetheless, Rice insisted that “it did not warn of attacks inside the United States.”
  • Nog meer onkunde (of erger? Cover-up?):
    The staff fails to note that the NYO had been on to members of the Yousef-Abdel Rahman cell since the Calverton surveillance of 1989, or that FBI agent Nancy Floyd had inserted undercover asset Emad Salem into the cell, until he was forced to withdraw because of the actions of NYO ASAC Carson Dunbar.1 They fail to add that Salem warned the Bureau to follow two of Yousef’s key co-conspirators (Abouhalima and Salameh), who would have led agents directly to Yousef before he set the bomb. The staff fails to note that the FBI had one of Yousef’s core cell members, Abdel Rahman Yasin, in custody, but released him after he claimed innocence. Yasin then fled to Iraq, and eventually the United States issued a $25 million reward for his capture.2 And though they reference “an international effort,” the staff doesn’t mention that Yousef was caught by DSS and DEA agents, or that after the FBI failed to canvas the Su Casa, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed escaped. Further, the staff, which later raises questions about Yousef’s ties to al Qaeda, leaves out the fact that he was arrested in a bin Laden-controlled guesthouse.3 All of these lapses are significant because in narrowing the scope of its investigation, the 9/11 Commission neglected to inform the public that considerable culpability for underestimating the growing al Qaeda threat occurred during the presidency of George H. W. Bush. It was on his watch that the FBI first missed a chance to capture Ramzi Yousef, the true “mastermind” of 9/11.
    The staff neglects to mention that the entire Day of Terror plot was exposed by Emad Salem, the source whom the Commission says was “reactivate[d].” In truth, Salem was so upset over his mistreatment by ASAC Carson Dunbar that he demanded $1.5 million from the Feds before going back undercover to do what he had been willing to do previously for five hundred dollars a week, his original pay.4 The staff doesn’t mention the fact that it was Salem who provided the intelligence that led to the arrest in Egypt of key Yousef co-conspirator Mahmud Abouhalima (“the Red”)5 or that on multiple occasions in the course of the Landmarks sting Salem became frustrated with Carson Dunbar and threatened to pull out, only to be brought back into the fold by Special Agent Nancy Floyd, who had first recruited him.6 Finally, the staff leaves out any mention of the punitive measures taken against Agent Floyd by the Bureau’s New York office. Even though she had recruited Salem (arguably the most important undercover asset to that point in the war on terror) rather than being rewarded, Floyd was subjected to a five-and-a-half-year internal affairs investigation, after which she was found guilty of being “insubordinate” to Carson Dunbar and suspended.7 Conversely, Dunbar, the ASAC who had almost blown the Day of Terror enterprise, was given the opportunity to take a position as superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, while transferring to an ATF no-show job that allowed him to maintain his federal pension.

    As noted earlier, the “small plane into the CIA” scenario was discussed by Murad in the first stages of his interrogation by Col. Rodolfo Mendoza, at which point Yousef’s co-conspirator, a commercial pilot trained in four U.S. flight schools, revealed the full details of the plot that was ultimately carried out on 9/11—a plot first planned in 1994 and not 1996, as the staff would go on to report in Staff Statement No. 16. The Commission staff’s almost off-handed report that “Yousef was involved in this attack” fails to indicate the depth of Yousef’s genius or his position in the al Qaeda hierarchy. The Bojinka plot, funded by Osama bin Laden via his brother-inlaw, was Ramzi Yousef’s idea, and he personally designed the unique Casio-nitro “bomb trigger,” which he successfully exploded on the PAL test flight in December 1994.
    What the staff doesn’t say is that the man who did the reconnaissance for the embassy bombings, and who took the pictures that Osama bin Laden personally used to place the trucks that carried the deadly bombs, was Ali Mohammed, the ex-Egyptian army officer-turned Green Beret who had trained the Calverton shooters under FBI surveillance in 1989.9 The report fails to note how Mohammed lived for years in San Francisco, serving as an FBI “informant” and passing on worthless intelligence to the Bureau as a double agent while he worked directly for bin Laden, training his bodyguards and spying on U.S. interests for al Qaeda. The staff report does, however, reveal some troubling details that help to explain why the FBI seemed to be so far behind the eight ball in the wall on terror:
    there is no mention in this Staff Statement of the Bureau’s role in setting up the third-party-calling “pass through” via Roma Corporation in 1996, which allowed Ramzi Yousef to contact cell members outside of his federal jail in New York—a system that, according to informant Greg Scarpa Jr., Yousef exploited. As the Joint Inquiry mentioned in its 2003 report, while in custody Yousef was able to contact KSM. Yet the 9/11 Commission makes no mention of this blunder—or of how the Scarpa intelligence put the FBI and Justice Department in a position to prevent the crash of TWA 800.
  • Over de FBI:
    But where was the FBI during all of this? The Commission staff found that, outside of the New York office, the Bureau personnel interviewed “did not recall a heightened sense of threat from al Qaeda within the United States.” Those interviewed included an international terrorism squad supervisor in the Washington field office who said that not only did he and his squad take no special “steps or actions” to respond to the heightened threat in 2001, but they were entirely unaware of it. Perhaps most disturbing was the staff’s interview with acting FBI Director Tom Pickard, who met with Ashcroft once a week in the summer of 2001. Though it was his practice to brief the attorney general on terrorism threats, Ashcroft reportedly told Pickard after two meetings “that he did not want to hear this information anymore.”
  • Over de Bin Laden familie die het land mocht verlaten terwijl er nog een vliegverbod was:
    This staff statement is perhaps most notable for its reported exoneration of the Bush White House on charges that it had intervened in the evacuation of 142 people, mostly Saudi nationals, including members of the bin Laden family, in the days after the 9/11 attacks, when there were severe restrictions on air travel. The charges first came to light in a September 2003 Vanity Fair story by Craig Unger, which excerpted part of his soon-to-be bestseller House of Bush, House of Saud.10 In the book, Unger reported that in the first forty-eight hours after the 9/11 attacks, when “virtually no one could fly,” the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. (and Bush family intimate) Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, “was orchestrating the exodus of more than 140 Saudis scattered throughout the country, including members of Osama bin Laden’s family.” The incident, which caused an uproar and charges of special treatment, was featured prominently in Michael Moore’s hit summer 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
    In his book, Unger reported that a specially configured 727 flew five bin Laden family members from Boston out of the country on September 18. The next day a flight arrived in Boston after picking up Saudis and bin Laden family members in Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C. At each step on the multicity exodus, wrote Unger, FBI officials were often in conflict with Bandar’s chargé d’affaires at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, which was helping to expedite the exodus. But the 9/11 Commission staff seemed determined to prove Unger wrong, by insisting that none of the flights took off during the immediate forty-eight hours after the 9/11 attacks when all U.S. air travel had been locked down. “Of course the real issue here isn’t the timing of the flights,” says Patty Casazza, “but whether or not potential material witnesses to a mass murder should not have been detained in the U.S. for questioning. Who were they protecting?” Despite compelling evidence of a decades-long relationship between the Bush family and the Saudis as set forth in Unger’s book, the Commission staff went out of its way to separate the White House from the Saudi flight decision, placing the responsibility on counterterrorism crisis manager Richard Clarke.
    But there were several factual errors in the staff statement, revealed only after Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, obtained documents from the Department of Homeland Security. They showed that an additional 160 Saudis were allowed to leave on some fifty-five commercial flights, and that some had taken off as early as September 11, bringing the total number of Saudis in the airlift to more than three hundred. Further, the Commission staff said nothing about the flight from Tampa, Florida, on September 13 of a Learjet 35 carrying a group of Saudis (including a member of the royal family) to Lexington, Kentucky, under the protection of an ex-FBI agent and retired Tampa police officer. That story, which Unger recounted in his book, was first reported in the Tampa Tribune in October 2001 by Kathy Steele, Brenda Kelly, and Elizabeth Lee Brown.11 Then, following the defense of the Saudi airlift by the 9/11 Commission, reporter Jean Heller advanced the story further in a piece for the St. Petersburg Times.12 Heller noted that officials of Tampa International Airport (TIA) had sent a confirmation of the Learjet flight to the 9/11 Commission staff following its publication of the staff statement...
    Not until the final report did the Commission see fit to mention the story of the Tampa flight, and even then it was in one of the thousands of footnotes printed in 7-point type at the back of the book. In a New York Times piece by Unger on June 1, he disclosed that the commercial flights with the 160 additional Saudis “originated from more than 20 cities including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Houston.” This story is significant, and not just because it suggests that a group of wealthy Saudis and potential material witnesses got special treatment by the Bush administration. Whether Richard Clarke made the call or it was approved above him, no other interest group that we know of, U.S. or foreign, got anything close to that level of handling at a time when airports were either locked down or just beginning to return to normal.

    Further, since fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, any potential fleeing Saudi national should have been subjected to a heightened level of scrutiny; especially members of the same family as the man who directed the attacks. But the staff statement admits that only thirty of the more than three hundred fleeing Saudis were ever questioned by the FBI—fewer than one in ten of the evacuees. Unger’s reporting, based in part on the enterprising work of local reporters, points up what we have attempted to demonstrate in this book: that the official version of the 9/11 story is being distorted by the very body set up to tell it truthfully and without consideration to special interests. An analysis of the work of thousands of reporters, as collated in the files of the Center for Cooperative Research, is critical to any serious assessment of the Commission’s findings. While it may be impossible to judge the Commission’s work when it comes to the vast amount of classified evidence that remains “in the black,” we can evaluate the staff’s findings against the public record. As we get closer to the events of September 11 itself, and the defense failures that left America exposed to attack, the need to separate truth from half-truth becomes even more acute.
  • Weer interessante feiten die werden toegedekt:
    For example, under a heading marked “Analysis of a New Danger,” which seeks to explain how the intelligence community underestimated the al Qaeda threat, the Commission staff claims that “While we now know that al Qaeda was formed in 1988, at the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Intelligence Community did not describe this organization, at least in documents we have seen,* until 1999.”1 But there were a significant number of documents describing al Qaeda in the possession of the FBI as early as 1996—documents in the form of FBI 302s or other briefing memos resulting from the interrogation of Jamal al Fadl. Al Fadl was the young Sudanese who worked for the murdered Mustafa Shalabi at the Alkifah Refugee Center at the al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn. In 1988, al Fadl traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he was present at the virtual creation of al Qaeda. Like a young Mafia member, al-Fadl swore a bayat or pledge to the new terror network. He later became so trusted by Osama bin Laden that the billionaire used him in Khartoum as a courier, front man, and link to Sudanese intelligence. But in 1996 al-Fadl got greedy. After embezzling some $110,000 in illicit commissions on the sale of goods from one of bin Laden’s companies, he gave himself up to the United States and became known as Confidential Source 1 (CS-1).2 The CIA debriefed al Fadl for the first six months, then turned him over to the FBI, who nicknamed him “Junior.” The FBI debriefing memos on al-Fadl provided a virtual road map of al Qaeda that the Feds later used to prosecute bin Laden in absentia in 2001. If al Fadl was handing over al Qaeda’s inner secrets to the Bureau in 1996, then, how can the Commission staff credibly maintain that “the Intelligence Community did not describe” al Qaeda until 1999? Didn’t Philip Zelikow or Jamie Gorelick have access to the classified al-Fadl papers? If not, why not? It’s not as though the Commission never heard of al Fadl; in fact, two months later, on June 16, 2004, FBI Agent Mary Deborah Doran referred to him repeatedly in her testimony before the full panel.
    How could the Commission staff, which surely preinterviewed Special Agent Doran, have missed the fact that the Bureau was in possession of numerous al Fadl debriefing memos by late 1996? By the time of its final report, the Commission had corrected the oversight in part: in Chapter 6 of the report, it noted that al Fadl had become a “star informant for the United States.”4 But the final report never explains the staff’s earlier conclusion that al Qaeda was missing from the U.S. intelligence community’s lexicon until 1999.
  • Terwijl de 9/11 Commissie maar bleef falen om de "dots" te "connecteren" waren er voldoende anderen die daar wel in slaagden:
    As yet another example of how an independent researcher with little or no budget and no subpoena power was able to come up with compelling evidence even the 9/11 Commission missed, consider the discovery made by John Berger, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based investigator who operates a Web site called Berger was the first journalist to break the story of how Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, was actually held in U.S. custody through May 1995, when he was freed and deported to Jordan.5 It was another case of the U.S. government expediting the exodus of a Saudi—in this instance, according to documents from the Philippines National Police, the financier of the Yousef-KSM Manila cell. When Yousef was arrested in Islamabad in February 1995, he was carrying Khalifa’s business card. John Berger and I first connected in the fall of 2003 after I discovered his remarkable Web site. We met in December in greater Boston, and the next month I sent him copies of the transcripts for both World Trade Center bombing trials, the Bojinka trial, and the Day of Terror trial, which had led to the conviction of the blind Sheikh.
    Mining the trial transcripts, John discovered a 1993 plot by Islamic radicals tied to Sheikh Rahman to hijack an airplane and use it as a weapon. That plot, he learned, was directed against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the U.S. embassy in Cairo. The plot was mentioned in the testimony of Emad Salem, Nancy Floyd’s asset, who had gone back undercover for the FBI to break the Day of Terror plot. During the trial, Salem testified that Siddig Siddig Ali, one of the Sheikh’s co-defendants, had asked him for help in a proposed plot in which a Sudanese air force pilot would bomb Mubarak’s home from a plane and then eject before sending the aircraft crashing into the U.S. embassy.6 According to the transcript as quoted by Berger, Ali asked Salem to find “gaps in the air defense in Egypt,” so that the pilot could “bomb the presidential house and then turn around, crash the plane into the American embassy after he eject[ed] himself out of the plane.”