What would happen if terrorists launched a dramatic attack on the U.S., but the disaster was dismissed by government officials as a terrible accident?

There’s no need to guess at the answer to this hypothetical question, say the authors of a new book. It happened on July 17, 1996, when terrorists attacked and downed TWA Flight 800 and U.S. officials covered up the amazing and mysterious explosions over Long Island and attributed them and the deaths of 230 passengers and crew members to mechanical failure.

In “First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America,” authors Jack Cashill and James Sanders make a persuasive case that a terrorist attack set off a chain of events that summer night that led to the disaster.

But, because of the political cover-up of the truth of what happened that night, the wheels of a bigger disaster for the nation were set in motion.

Cashill and Sanders have uncovered startling new evidence about the crash, including a critical Islamic terrorist connection covered up by federal investigators to give America a false sense of peace leading to the presidential elections three months later.

Ordinary Americans never realized it, but on July 17, 1996, the U.S. was on the highest state of alert since the Cuban Missile crisis, “First Strike” shows. It was two days before the Atlanta Olympics and three weeks after the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

While some have questioned the terrorist connection to TWA Flight 800 because, they say, no terrorists ever took responsibility for attacking the plane, the authors show just the opposite. Not only did terrorists – the Islamic Change Movement – take responsibility for the attack, they predicted such an attack in advance. This is the same group that had taken responsibility for Khobar Towers, now widely blamed on al-Qaida.

“The mujahedin will deliver the ultimate response to the threats of the foolish American president,” the communique predicted earlier July 17. “Everyone will be amazed at the size of that response. … Their time is at the morning-dawn. Is not the morning-dawn near?”

Dawn in Afghanistan, the authors point out, corresponded almost exactly to dusk in New York.

The next day, the Islamic Change Movement issued another communique: “We carried out our promise with the plane attack of yesterday,” it read in part.

Here’s how terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky analyzed this in 1999 – two years before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: “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.”

Cashill and Sanders chronicle the way news reports in the immediate aftermath of the explosion all focused on the likelihood of a bomb or missile destroying the plane. Dozens of witnesses reported seeing a bright object streak toward the plane just before the explosion. The trail of an apparent missile streak was caught on radar – and apparently on video.

All of this evidence would be deliberately spiked by investigators reporting to political operatives in the White House.

Cashill and Sanders discredit the official version of events told by the National Transportation Safety Board and FBI – documenting myriad cases of malfeasance, lies and cover-ups inside the investigation and, perhaps worse for the nation, outside, as the fraudulent information was filtered to reporters and a credulous American people.

“You want a smoking gun?” asks Joseph Farah, editor of WorldNetDaily and cofounder of WND Books, the publisher of “First Strike.” “This is the smoking gun. This is the book that will help you understand why we were all shocked on Sept. 11, 2001, when, in fact, our government had many warnings – when there were previous, major, unacknowledged terrorist attacks like the one on TWA Flight 800.”

“First Strike,” the fourth release from Thomas Nelson imprint WND Books, takes readers step by step through the deception explaining the motives and methods of a cover-up designed to make Americans believe that 230 fellow citizens hadn’t died at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Readers can order “First Strike” today at WND’s online store, ShopNetDaily, where it will be exclusively available beginning in February, before being made available at bookstores in March.

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