TWA Flight 800 is the case that won’t go away. The truth of what happened the night of July 17, 1996, off the coast of Long Island reveals itself with painful slowness, but it reveals itself. Both of the advances in question, though small, have huge potential, especially if either the government or the major media follow up.

On the legal front, Retired United Airline pilot Ray Lahr and his attorney, John Clarke, scored a breakthrough partial victory in the first ruling granting public access to records from the crash investigation. In a Los Angeles federal court, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz allowed Lahr and Clarke access to seven of the 12 records they requested, including witness identities and flight characteristics. Within weeks, Matz will rule on the request for access to 23 more record sets.

“We’re hoping this ruling will start an avalanche of FOIA suits,” said Clarke. This ruling was considered significant enough for the National Law Journal to cover the story and assign a reporter.

On the investigative front, my column last week on a possible Iraqi connection to TWA Flight 800 provoked one intriguing lead. I was referred to the documents found in Iraq post-war and released through the Foreign Military Studies Office Joint Reserve Intelligence Center. The Center cautions that these documents have not been validated, but they are obviously not hoaxes either. They are the remains of what had to have been a massive document purge in the long buildup to war.

The 1999 document came from the files of the Iraqi Intelligence Services and was sent by an operative from the Fedayeen Saddam to Uday Hussein, Saddam’s son and the organization’s commander. The Fedayeen Saddam functioned not unlike Hitler’s SS, a paramilitary band of fanatic loyalists that reported directly to the Husseins.

The document in question details a plan to be known as Tamooz Mubarak or, in English, Operation Blessed July. This missive came in response to an order by Uday to launch a series of bombings and assassinations in London and in Iran, as well as in the self-ruled zones of Iraq itself. Although the planned attacks were to take place three years after the destruction of TWA Flight 800, the document sheds some useful light on that 1996 event in at least three different ways, only the first of which the media reported, and not surprisingly, none of that reporting was done by the major media.

For one, the document shows that Iraq had no qualms about engaging in terrorism. In its effort to discredit the liberation of Iraq, the left now remembers the reign of Saddam as Iraq’s kite-flying halcyon days. Richard Clarke claims that a U.S. cruise missile strike in 1993 following an assassination attempt on Bush 41 disabused Saddam of resorting to terror. Nonsense. The plans outlined in this document are as serious as a truck bomb. They call for selecting 50 “fedayeen martyrs,” training them at intelligence school “for the required duties,” and then assigning them to selected targets.

As a second note of interest, the plan celebrates the month of July. As I have noted previously, July 17 was National Liberation Day in Saddam’s Iraq, the most important day on Iraq’s revolutionary calendar. On July 17, 1996, Saddam gave what terrorism expert Laurie Mylroie calls “the most angry, vengeful speech of his entire life.” He condemned the U.S. for its troops on Saudi and Kuwaiti soil and demanded the lifting of sanctions.

What really caught my eye about this document, however, was the third item of interest, the handwritten note on the bottom. It reads, “The morning is a blessed verse, by the name of merciful God, their appointment is in the morning, and indeed the morning is near.” (my italics)

On the morning of the destruction of TWA Flight 800, a communication in the form of a fax arrived at Al-Hayah in London, the most prestigious Arabic language newspaper. Sent by the Islamic Change Movement, which Mylroie believes to be the name used by Iraqi intelligence to take credit for terrorist acts, it reads as follows:


The mujahedeen will give their harshest reply to the threats of the foolish U.S. president. Everybody will be surprised by the magnitude of the reply, the date and time of which will be determined by the mujahedeen. The invaders must be prepared to leave, either dead or alive. Their time is at the morning-dawn. Is not the morning-dawn near? (my italics).

The difference between the final call to action on both these passages is likely due to the translation. There is at least one admonition in the Quran from an angel who commands, “Rise and remember Allah, for the morning is near!” But a Google search reveals only one hit on that exact phrase and just a handful on anything like it. Besides, the syntax in the two calls to action is much more specific, so specific that they almost assuredly came from the same source. If that can be proven, the fax to Al-Hayah in London may be TWA 800’s smoking gun.

If there is an Arabic expert out there, I could use your help.



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