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Editor’s note: Jack Cashill and James Sanders will have eye-opening new
information on the crash of TWA Flight 800 and its cover-up in their new
book, “First Strike,” due out early next year from WND Books, a
partnership of WorldNetDaily and Thomas Nelson Publishers.
The jury is in on TWA Flight 800, and the verdict is clear: There is absolutely no evidence of either a mechanical failure, or of a bomb planted in the fuselage. Indeed, all available evidence suggests the explosive event that destroyed the ill-fated airliner in 1996 was caused by a terrorist group called the Islamic Change Movement.
This is the “group” that had taken responsibility for the Riyadh bombing in 1995 that killed five Americans and two Indian nationals, and the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996, that killed 19 American servicemen.
Early on July 17, 1996, the very day TWA Flight 800 was destroyed, this same group issued a communique that, according to Yossef Bodansky, “laid the foundation for the downing of TWA 800.” As director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Bodansky knows the subject as well as any man alive.
The communique was chilling: “The mujahideen will deliver the ultimate response to the threats of the foolish American president. Everyone will be amazed at the size of that response,” it read in part. “Their time is at the morning-dawn. Is not the morning-dawn near?” Dawn in Afghanistan corresponded almost exactly to dusk in New York, the moment of TWA Flight 800’s demise.
So powerful and public was the warning that, by the night of July 18, the State Department had already swung into denial mode. “While it’s up to those leading the investigation to make a judgment on what this means,” said spokesman Glyn Davies unconvincingly, “we think that this is a common type of political tract circulated commonly in the Middle East, and that the only connection is a vague chronological one – that this thing surfaced at this dreadful time.”
The State Department failed to note that on this same day, July 18, the Islamic Change Movement released another communique through well-established Islamist terrorist channels in Beirut. It read in part, “We carried out our promise with the plane attack of yesterday.”
Bodansky was not impressed by the State Department denials. He raised the chillingly prophetic alarm that follows – not after Sept. 11, but two years before:
The case of TWA 800 served as a turning point because of Washington’s determination – and to a great extent ability – to suppress terrorist explanations and “float” mechanical failure theories. To avoid such suppression after future strikes, terrorism-sponsoring states would raise the ante so that the West cannot ignore them.
Less well understood is just which “terrorism-sponsoring state” was backing the Islamic Change Movement. In her fascinating book, “The War Against America,” Laurie Mylroie makes the case that the one nation with the means and the motivation was Iraq. “The most likely interpretation,” she notes, “is that the Islamic Change Movement was a name given by Iraqi intelligence to threaten or claim credit for bombings.”
To be sure, Mylroie does not link the Islamic Change Movement to TWA Flight 800. In fact, she does not mention the doomed flight at all. She focuses primarily on the first World Trade Center bombing. A meticulous researcher, Mylroie developed much of her material as a consultant for Newsweek. She has sifted through the various documents unearthed in the various criminal trials, and followed the paper trail right back to Iraq. Her reasoning and her documentation are difficult to refute.
Curious as to why she avoided the subject of TWA Flight 800, I called Ms. Mylroie. As I told her, I did not expect her to commit to a theory on the crash based on my five-minute phone explanation, but I would appreciate her insight on a few key points. One was on the question of whether it was indeed the Islamic Change Movement that had sent a specific threat the morning of the flight. “No,” she answered cagily, “They actually sent it the night before.”
A second point of interest was the date of the plane’s destruction. Mylroie mentions frequently, as have others, that terrorists in the Islamic world have a fixation with dates. She argues, for instance, that the first World Trade Center bombing took place on the second anniversary of the final day of the Gulf War, a correlation she sees as significant. (She does not explore the Oklahoma City bombing, despite the fact that its modus operandi is eerily similar to the bombing of the World Trade Center and that it took place on the second anniversary of the final day of another siege – the one on Waco).
The most significant day on the Iraqi revolutionary calendar marks the coup that brought Hussein’s Ba’th party to power in the ill-starred year of 1969. Mylroie makes several references to this date – July 17 – but, curiously, she makes no reference to the most violent terrorist event that tracks with that date, namely the destruction of TWA Flight 800. Again, Mylroie was aware of the connection, but chose not to pursue it.
A third point of interest is the man responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef. Mylroie makes a compelling case that Yousef was an Iraqi agent. Indeed, the Arabs with whom he conspired in the New York area knew him as “Rashid, the Iraqi.”
On July 17, 1996, Yousef was standing trial in New York for his role in a plot known as “Bojinka,” the Serbian word for explosive. Yousef had been planning to blow up 11 American airliners over the Pacific more or less simultaneously. The scary thing is that he was capable of doing it.
One element of Bojinka planning mirrored Yousef’s most successful crime: the truck bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. If one could stuff a thousand pounds of explosives into a van, reasoned Yousef (on the laptop seized from the Manila apartment he shared with Abdul Hakim Murad, a Pakistani pilot), why not stuff a comparable amount in a small plane and strike real terror into the belly of the beast? The one speculative target cited was the CIA building. But more important was the methodology. The following excerpt from a classified Republic of the Philippines intelligence report shows that al-Qaida had plans to use small planes as flying bombs as early as 1994.
The document [from Yousef’s computer] specifically cited the charter service of a commercial-type aircraft loaded with powerful bombs to be dive-crashed by Saeed Akman. This is apparently intended to demonstrate to the whole world that a Muslim martyr is ready and determined to die for the glorification of Islam.
Sept. 11 mastermind, Mohammed Atta, also made plans to use small, private planes to launch an attack of some kind within America. During the spring of 2000, in a stunning bit of chutzpah, Atta visited a U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Homestead, Fla., and attempted to apply for a government financed loan. USDA manager Johnelle Bryant described his unlikely (and happily unsuccessful) request for ABC News:
He … actually wanted to purchase a six-passenger, twin-engine airplane, that he could pull the back seats out, and build a special-made chemical tank to put … into … the aircraft to hold the chemicals for crop-dusting, and yet remove that when he … needed to, and replace the seats for … [a] charter-type plane.
Although Atta had no known connection to the destruction of TWA Flight 800, and his avowed interest was in “crop-dusting,” his plans to reconfigure the plane seem to have come right out of the Yousef playbook. I cite these references to small planes because there was undeniably one in the mix on July 17, 1996 – one described by the most credible eyewitness as a “six-seater.”
A fourth point of interest is the behavior of President Bill Clinton. Although she served as an adviser to Clinton during his 1992 campaign, Mylroie finds his reaction to Iraqi-backed terrorism “inexplicable.” In fact, throughout the book, Mylroie quietly condemns the seeming “policy disarray” that leads time and again to inaction. The administration, she notes, suffered from the inability to tell the truth about Iraq even to itself.
In an insightful National Review article, Byron York argues that in the desperately political year of 1996, Clinton adviser Dick Morris polled continuously, even on tragic events like Khobar Towers and TWA Flight 800, to see how the president should respond. The conclusion was that “talking tough” would suffice. The implication is that tough talk would allow Clinton to hold his lead over the Republican’s aging warrior, Bob Dole, without engendering further risk. Says York, “Clinton was preoccupied with his own political fortunes to an extent that precluded his giving serious and sustained attention to fighting terrorism.”
For the Clinton White House, there was no political upside to terrorism unless it could be blamed on the American right wing. And if there were no political upside, why pursue it at all – why not just wish it away? Such was America’s foreign policy for eight years, and never more intensely so than in the anxious run-up to Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid.
If Mylroie ignores TWA Flight 800 altogether, York addresses it parenthetically: “It was later ruled to be an accident,” he notes. One cannot blame either for avoiding the topic. When they were writing, there was no substantial body of evidence refuting the government’s specious but complex argument for mechanical failure. That is about to change. And when it does, the brief for an attack on Iraq could only grow stronger.
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Editor’s note: Jack Cashill and James Sanders will have eye-opening new information on the crash of Flight 800 and its cover-up in their new book due out early next year from WND Books, a partnership of WorldNetDaily and Thomas Nelson Publishers.