A Manufactured Jihad Against The West: The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing
“You keep talking also about collective punishment and killing innocent people to force governments to change their policies; you call this terrorism when someone would kill innocent people or civilians in order to force the government to change its policies. Well, when you were the first one who invented this terrorism.
You were the first one who killed innocent people, and you are the first one who introduced this type of terrorism to the history of mankind when you dropped an atomic bomb which killed tens of thousands of women and children in Japan and when you killed over a hundred thousand people, most of them civilians, in Tokyo with fire bombings. You killed them by burning them to death. And you killed civilians in Vietnam with chemicals as with the so-called Orange agent. You killed civilians and innocent people, not soldiers, innocent people every single war you went. You went to wars more than any other country in this century, and then you have the nerve to talk about killing innocent people.
And now you have invented new ways to kill innocent people. You have so-called economic embargo which kills nobody other than children and elderly people, and which other than Iraq you have been placing the economic embargo on Cuba and other countries for over 35 years. … The Government in its summations and opening statement said that I was a terrorist. Yes, I am a terrorist and I am proud of it. And I support terrorism so long as it was against the United States Government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are liars, butchers, and hypocrites.”
(Ramzi Yousef statement to his sentencing for his participation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and Bojinka Plot, January 8th 1998)
Former Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke, once poignantly stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In the telling of this story regarding the bombing of the World Trade Center on that cold February 26th 1993 morning, the documented record shared here, witnessed many good people helping others out in the face of evil.
However, like all stories, there is a beginning. And during the creation of this evil, we witnessed many people from the foreign and domestic intelligence services, supposedly “good” men, seemingly did nothing to stop the “evil” men from conducting the most egregious terrorist attack on the United States since the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. While also using credible sources from prominent and respected authors, researchers, congressional hearings, and studies that I quoted and dated for your own eyes.
When the Soviets invaded the capitol of Afghanistan, Kabul on December 24tth 1979, no one envisioned an enemy like the Arab Mujahideen as a global threat. The United States CIA station in Islamabad had began acting as a conduit for funding the Mujahideen fighters. Although Pakistan ISI would later claim, their involvement was minimal, it would later turn out to be the opposite. By the early 1980’s, many foreign Arabs from the United States and parts of the Gulf were descending onto Pakistan, inexperienced and also without proper support for housing and food. The United States, thru the Pakistan ISI, began it’s largest covert operation in the agency’s history, code named “Operation Cyclone”. The program was to assist in getting the ball rolling in arming and training he young and old who came to fight the common enemy of the West, without ever getting the United States directly involved.
The agency does not usually deal with the Afghan Arabs directly, but through an intermediary, the Pakistan’s ISI. The agreement is sealed during a secret visit to Pakistan, where CIA Director William Casey commits the agency to support the ISI program of recruiting radical Muslims for the Afghan war from other Muslim countries around the world. In addition to the Gulf States, these include Turkey, the Philippines, and China. The ISI started their recruitment of radicals from other countries in 1982.
The program was designed to arm and finance the Afghan and Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan, to which the program lasted from 1979 to 1992. The first CIA-supplied weapons were antique British Lee–Enfield rifles shipped out in December 1979; by September 1986 the program included U.S.-origin state of the art weaponry, such as FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, some 2,300 of which were ultimately shipped into Afghanistan. Funding continued (albeit reduced) after the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, as the mujahideen continued to battle the forces of President Mohammad Najibullah’s army during the Afghan Civil War.
However, many historians would later claim that the war didn’t start in 1979 by the Soviets. In fact, the funding for the Mujahideen was secretly ordered nearly six months before the invasion, though that was, of course, denied for many years. According to the article entitled “What matters most, indeed” posted by The Financial Times on April 27th 2014:
“US National Security Adviser under President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, himself was crystal clear in his interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998 that he pushed Carter to sign the first secret directive for support for the Mujahideen on July 3 1979. The aim was in part to draw Russia into war in order to hasten the weakening of its power and its capacity to control eastern Europe. And that policy, in his view, succeeded. Indeed, when questioned in the interview 19 years later about the consequences in terms of increased Muslim militancy, he dismissively responded by rhetorically asking which mattered most, “some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of central Europe and the end of the cold war?” History has made that an even more interesting question than it was in 1998. “Some stirred-up Muslims”, indeed.”
In the initial onset of the war certain Afghan leaders called on the Arab ulema to join the fight, Mustafa Hamid, would later write in his book “The Arabs At War In Afghanistan”, in chapter Two “The Arab-Afghan Jihad”,
“Jalaluddin Haqqani, a commander in the group of Yunis Khalis, Hizb i Islami, was among those in the delegation that travelled to Abu Dhabi and who wanted Arabs to come and join the jihad. He asked Sayyaf to call for Arab volunteers to come to Afghanistan, arguing ‘the Arabs will not know what we need unless they come here’. Sayyaf agreed to Haqqani’s request and said he would call for volunteers at a press conference he was to hold in Abu Dhabi. But other Afghan leaders said, ‘we do not need Arab volunteers, we need money’. I attended this press conference and Sayyaf did not call for Arab volunteers as Haqqani had asked. Instead, he only asked for donations and support.”
Many Egyptians went to Afghanistan because of Israel, because of 1967’s complete defeat — from the first seconds of the war to the last; and also from 1973’s initial success and then defeat. For example, Muhammad Makkawi, a prominent Afghan mujahid — famous for his criticism of the Battle of Jalalabad — was in the Special Forces in the 1973 war, and among those on the front line. He resigned from the army, and when he got a chance, left for Afghanistan. Abu Hafs al-Masri, one of al-Qaeda’s founders, was trained in missile use, and Abu Jihad al-Masri from Tanzim alJihad and later al-Qaeda also served in the anti-aircraft missile section. Abu Abdul Rahman al-BM, a one-time al-Qaeda member and mujahid, respected for his proficiency with the BM weapon (from where he got his lifelong nickname), was in the chemical weapons section during the 1973 war. A good number of those who fought in these wars left to join the jihad in Afghanistan.”
Many other Arabs from countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Syria, Jordan, Algeria and Egypt would arrive thru the MAK offices by way of the recruiting efforts from people such as Omar Abdel Rahman, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam and Ayman al-Zawahiri. All who would later play an impactful role in the future of how Arab terrorism began to unfurl it’s fury with the help of the intelligence services. Thru-ought the 1980’s, Egyptian “takfiri” Muslims, were released from the prisons under Mubarak to enter the jihad in Afghanistan, in the hopes of them getting killed. However, some of these Egyptian radicals began to situate themselves into the MAK offices and getting level entry positions.
What is takfiri? The question is best answered by Ali Soufan’s “The Black Banners” book in Chapter One: The Fatwa And The Bet:
“Wahhabism by itself is a peaceful version of Islam, as attested to by the millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states who are practicing Wahhabis and have nothing to do with violence or extremism. The extremism and terrorism arise when Wahhabism, a puritanical form of Islam with a distrust of modernity and an emphasis on the past, is mixed with a violent form of Salafism (a strand of Islam that focuses heavily on what pious ancestors did). An even more potent combination occurs with the introduction of the idea of takfir, wherein Muslims who don’t practice Islam the same way are labeled apostates and are considered to be deserving of death.
The result is like mixing oil and fire. It was in Afghanistan, during the first jihad, when Muslims from all across the world came to fight the Soviets, that these concepts combusted. Wahhabis came from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, Salafis primarily from Jordan, and takfiris mainly from North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Libya, and Egypt). Takfir was popular among the North African jihadists, as they had been fighting their own (nominally Muslim) regimes and therefore had to justify their terrorism and the killing of fellow Muslims in the process.”
The war was an enticing atmosphere for the true believer in jihad and what it meant for one’s natural soul. Palestinian imam and noted Hafiz, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was drawn here by a direct invitation from Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, head of the Ittehad-al-Islami (Islamic Union) faction. Sayyaf had close relations with Saudi Arabia and helped mobilize Arab jihadist volunteers for the mujahideen forces, one of only two Afghan warlords who allowed Arabs to fight alongside them, with Jalaluddin Haqqani being the other. It was during this period that Azzam begun noticing that Arab foreign fighters were coming in record numbers into Peshawar. His idea was simple, to begin operating an office to properly train and help educate these Mujahid.
“Death of the martyr for the unification of all the people in the cause of god and his word is the happiest, best, easiest and most virtuous of all deaths” (Taqi Al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya)
Azzam traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, and invited Osama Bin Laden, who was already making a name for himself by using his fathers construction company (Saudi BinLaden Group) to help the Mujahideen fighters, Wael Juladin and Jamal Khalifa (Bin Laden’s brother in law) to a meeting. The discussion would be about operating a recruitment office for Arabs. It would be called the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) (Afghan Services Bureau). It would serve two primary purposes.
To have Arabs serve the Afghan Mujahideen.
To be the starting point for Arabs in the service of Afghans.
Bin Laden came away enthusiastic about the idea and agreed to help financially support the operation. Azzam had then invited Abdul Rasul Sayyaf to get his approval as this would take place in his domain in Peshawar. Sayyaf and Bin Laden came to a total agreement. At first the bureau existed in the Muslim Student Union located in the University of Peshawar. This became infeasible due to the constant stream of Arab fighters.
Bin Laden then rented a house in Peshawar in November of 1984. The house was named, Abu Hamza Bayt, in honor of an Afghan Mujahid killed while doing a mission in Afghanistan. In 1985, the bureau adds another house, Bayt Abu Uthman. This was used for visiting donors and VIP’s. Bin Laden then sets up another house, Bayt Al Ansar. Then another guest house, Bayt Al Shuhada. By 1988, the Maktab al-Khidamat would have 8 buildings operating within Pakistan.
“Azzam had started to outline an idea of how he envisioned the role of the Afghan Arabs once the anti-Soviet war was won. The foreign contingent had started to think about their future as far back as 1986, when it became clear that the Soviet Union was looking for a way to exit the conflict. His plan for a ‘solid base’ or qaeda sulba, for instance, contained an implicit criticism of the Egyptian jihadis, who always sought to focus on the ‘near enemy.’ Azzam Biographer Thomas Hegghammer notes that one of Azzam’s central contributions was to foreground this change from the ‘near enemy’ to the ‘far enemy.’
Nevertheless, the Afghan Arabs, with few exceptions, were still predominantly concerned with their home governments and the fight they had left to join the Afghan jihad in this period. While it is difficult to verify, it seems clear, based on their actions in the early 1990s, that only a small number of the Afghan Arabs would have perceived themselves as a truly transnational vanguard fighting for the umma.”
(An Enemy We Created: The Myth Of The Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger In Afghanistan Chapter Three Jihad (1979–1990) (Alex Strick Linschoten)
Baluchistan, Pakistan is the largest province of Pakistan by land area but is the least populated one. It shares land borders with the Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to the north-east and Sindh to the south-east. However, it is also a thoroughfare for opium smugglers, gun runners and major narcotics traffickers travelling thru Pakistan from Afghanistan or India. It is also home to a certain clan from the Mohammed-Karim bloodline.
Abdul Basit Mahmoud Abdul Karim, also known by numerous aliases, one in which is Ramzi Yousef. It is not definitively know where he was born, but he is said to have been raised in Baluchistan by his father and mother. His uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who also went by 50 other aliases, was alleged to have been born here. But according to an FBI debriefing of Yousef (Basit), taken on February 7th 1995, he was born in Kuwait, and moved to Pakistan, and how to build bombs,
“Yousef stated he was born in Kuwait and lived there for twenty years until the Iraq war when his family moved to Pakistan. Yousef stated his family was originally from Pakistan. He attended high school in Kuwait and from 1986 to 1989 the West Glamorgan Institute Of Higher Learning in the United Kingdom. Yousef stated he earned a Higher National Diploma in Electronics and the course was called “Computer Aided Electronics”. In 1989 he returned to Kuwait and worked as a communications engineer at the National Computer Center for the Minister of Planning. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Yousef then moved to Pakistan. Yousef stated his first language is Arabic but also speaks Baluch and English as well.
After moving to Pakistan Yousef stated he went to various training camps in Afghanistan for a period of six months. Yousef described these camps as “a place where Arabs can get training” in explosives, defensive tactics, weapons use, etc. Yousef stated that each camp specializes in one area, for example explosives. Yousef stated that after training in Afghanistan, he returned to Pakistan to read about bomb building.”
In 1982, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had listened to a speech given by a notable Sunni preacher, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf on a radio played in the town coffee shop. He gave an impassioned plea about how the Muslim Ummah should join the jihad against the invading Soviet Army in Afghanistan, Yet it was his university education which was his mother's wishes first. KSM enrolled at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, where he successfully completed his courses and received (BS) in science in 1986.
By the following year in 1987, KSM would travel back to Peshawar, Pakistan. There he would meet up with his brother Zahid al-Sheikh. it was here that Zahid worked as the head of the Pakistani branch of the charity Mercy International. A position given to him by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.
Yousef was sent to the United Kingdom for education. In 1986, he enrolled at Swansea Institute in Wales, where he studied electrical engineering, graduating four years later. In 1989, he once again returned to Peshawar and began training at the Sadda training camp for Afghan mujahideen fighters, there he learned how to manufacture explosives devices from Abu Jaffar al-Qandahari, who was an explosives expert from the Jihad Wal training camp, which was located in Khost, Afghanistan. Jaffar also trained another fellow Mujahid, who just arrived in 1989, Ahmed Ajaj. Yousef graduated from Swansea in 1989, just before he began training at the Sadda camp (operated under Afghan warlord and de facto head of the Northern Alliance, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf).
“It is as if 100 years were added to my life when I came to Afghanistan” (Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri)
Ramzi Yousef would then complete his training from Abu Jaffar al-Qandahari at the Sadda training camp, even thou according to Jaffar, Yousef was not that “impressionable” in bomb making, Ajaj was however better suited at it. Ajaj along with Yousef would then travel to the mountainous Paktika province near Tora Bora, Afghanistan to train in explosives at the Khalden camp. The camp was run by a Saudi, Khalid Sulayman Jaydh Al Hubayshi. Ajaj was quite the character. Although very little is known about his formative years, his profile tells quite a story. One that is fashioned from the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.
Ajaj was actually a small-time crook who was arrested in 1988 for counterfeiting U.S. dollars. Ajaj and two other members of his counterfeiting ring ran a printing press in an Arab cemetery outside East Jerusalem, housing their equipment in the same building where religious Muslims wash corpses before burial. When Israeli police raided the cemetery, they arrested Ajaj, who was holding some $100,000 of bogus U.S. currency. Another gang member was carrying an antiquated pistol. Ajaj was convicted for counterfeiting and sentenced to two-and-one-half years.
It was during his prison stay that Mossad, Israeli’s CIA, apparently recruited him, say Israeli intelligence sources. By the time he was released after having served just one year, he had seemingly undergone a radical transformation. The common crook had become a devout Muslim fanatic. Soon after, he was arrested for smuggling weapons into the West Bank, allegedly for El Fatah.
Ahmed Ajaj’s story can also be fully understood thru Nelson Martin’s fantastic work “The Hidden Path To 9/11: The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing” by using primary news reports and source tabloid reporting which shows Ajaj was indeed being depended on by Yousef, due to his skills at bomb constructing at the Sadda camp in Afghanistan.
According to an article by Thomas Friedman in the Village Voice dated August 3rd 1993,
“Although Israel says Ajaj was expelled to Jordan in April 1991 as a security risk, Peter Lems, an official for the Palestine Human Rights Center, based in East Jerusalem, told the Village Voice that Ajaj’s name does not appear on any known list of Palestinian deportees. Whatever the case, soon after Ajaj left Israel, he traveled to Peshawar, Pakistan. Where he would meet with Ramzi Yusuf some time right after entry into the country.
But Friedman’s sources in Israeli intelligence say that the arrest and Ajaj’s subsequent deportation were “staged by Mossad to establish his credentials as an intifada activist. Mossad allegedly ‘tasked’ Ajaj to infiltrate radical
Palestinian groups operating outside Israel and to report back to Tel Aviv. Israeli intelligence sources say that it is not unusual for Mossad to recruit from the ranks of common criminals.”
On April 18, 1983, the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is bombed by a suicide truck attack, killing 63 people. On October 23, 1983, a Marine barracks in Beirut is bombed by another suicide truck attack, killing 241 Marines. Peter Goldmark, the executive director of the New York Port Authority, is concerned that, in light of terrorist attacks occurring around the world, Port Authority facilities, including the World Trade Center, could become terrorist targets.
Goldmark was considered a visionary, someone who saw the ripple before the water break. He would create the Office of Special Planning (OSP) to evaluate the vulnerabilities of all Port Authority facilities and present recommendations to minimize the risks of attack. To help lead the group Goldmark chose, Edward O’Sullivan, who has experience in counterterrorism from earlier careers in the Navy and Marine Corps. The group would consult with the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, NSA, and Defense Department, in regards to the current day threat reporting.
In November 1985, the Office of Special Planning, would issue a report called “Counter-Terrorism Perspectives: The World Trade Center.” For security purposes, only seven copies are made, being hand-delivered and signed for by its various recipients, including the executive director of the Port Authority, the superintendent of the Port Authority Police, and the director of the World Trade Department. According to a NY State Law reporting Bureau litigation document entitled “In The Matter of World Trade Center Bombing Litigation” dated January 20th 2004,
“The WTC, constructed by the Port Authority pursuant to a grant of authority in McKinney’s Unconsolidated Laws of NY §§ 6601–6618, was a multibuilding commercial and office complex. It was built to bring together facilities such as customs houses, commodity and security exchanges, exporters and importers, freighters, other offices, and exhibition facilities, with portions of the buildings which “may not be devoted to purposes of the port development project other than the production of incidental revenue” to support the port development project.”
The design of the trade center had in mind of connecting downtown Manhattan into one giant complex which would help build commence in the dying epicenter. Many however disagreed. Including Lawrence Wien, the lead manager of the Empire State Building. On May 2, 1968 Wien, the owner of the Empire State Building as well as other engineers and commercial landmark owners took out a full page ad in the NY Times and headlined it as the following..
“The Mountains Come To Manhattan”
Wien remembers all too vividly, that just 23 years ago a B-25 Army bomber had accidentally crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building impacting the 79th & 80th floors. However this was something entirely too risky he thought, building a 110 story skyscraper just off the Hudson where in time the air would be teeming with passenger jets filled with people. He also thought about electrical interference to tens of thousands just right in Lower Manhattan.
In the article Wien as well as numerous other engineers, that included the President of the Allied Pilots Association, spoke out against the haphazard of the World Trade Towers.
“And the President of the Allied Pilots Association who speaks for 3500 commercial airline pilots is deeply concerned over the safety problems arisen out of traffic congestion in this area. Safe navigation includes not only planned flight patterns but also provisions for unforeseen and uncontrolled diversions”.
The article and it’s dire warnings went unheeded and the World Trade Center complex had its ribbon cutting ceremony on April 4th 1973.
Rick Rescorla, was a decorated Vietnam veteran who served on the front lines in in the battlefield of La Trang with the legendary Hal Moore. Rescorla had moved to New Jersey in 1985 and was employed as vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Rescorla’s office was on the forty-fourth floor of the south tower.
In A New Yorker article entitled “The Real Hero’s’ Are Dead” written by James B. Stewart dated February 3rd 2002, Rescorla was worried about the security lapses in the South Tower. A good man trying to do something.
“Because of Hill’s training in counterterrorism, in 1990 Rescorla asked him to come up and take a look at the security situation. “He knew I could be an evil-minded bastard,” Hill recalls. At the World Trade Center, Rescorla asked him a simple question: “How would you take this out?” Hill looked around, and asked to see the basement. They walked down an entrance ramp into a parking garage; there was no visible security, and no one stopped them. “This is a soft touch,” Hill said, pointing to a load-bearing column easily accessible in the middle of the space. “I’d drive a truck full of explosives in here, walk out, and light it off.
As a result of Hill’s observations and his own, Rescorla arranged a meeting with a security official for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which managed the building. “They told Rick to kiss off,” Hill recalled. “They told him, ‘You lease your stories, you worry about that. The rest of the building is not your concern.”
By 1987, Zahid al-Shaikh Mohammed introduces KSM to Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. KSM would begin service as Sayyaf’s secretary and helps recruit Arabs to fight in Afghanistan for Sayyaf’s faction. While in Afghanistan KSM would meet some of the most notable warlords and Islamic figures in the front lines, Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abdullah Azzam.
Meanwhile, Zahid al-Sheikh would be employed as head of the Pakistani branch of one of the biggest charities in Pakistan Mercy International. A book later published by Simon Reeve (The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin laden & the Future of Terrorism) would allege that this charity based organization had ties with the CIA and was used to funnel money to Islamic militants during the Soviet War. It is not known when Zahid got involved with the charity, but he is heading its Pakistani branch by 1988, when his nephew Ramzi Yousef first goes to Afghanistan. According to Reeve, in the spring of 1993, US investigators raid Zahid’s house while searching for Yousef. Documents and pictures are found suggesting close links and even a friendship between Zahid and Osama bin Laden.
Photos and other evidence also show links between Zahid, KSM, and government officials close to Nawaf Sharif, who is prime minister of Pakistan twice in the 1990s. The investigators also discover that Zahid was seen talking to Pakistani President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari during a Mercy International ceremony in February 1993. Investigators learn Yousef had made a phone call to the Mercy office, and there is an entry in Yousef’s seized telephone directory for a Zahid Shaikh Mohammed. Pakistani investigators raid the Mercy office, but Zahid has already fled.
Tens of millions began pouring in from Islamic charities abroad, and also from sympathizers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as money coming from local charities inside the United States and countries worldwide into the MAK offices in Peshawar. The recruiting center of the MAK even extended beyond the borders of Pakistan, into as far reaching places such as Arizona and New York City. One building in particular was the Al Kifah Refugee Center, which was located inside a mosque in Flatbush, Brooklyn known as Al Farouq. On December 29, 1987, three men, Mustafa Shalabi, Fawaz Damra, and Ali Shinawy, formally file papers incorporating Al-Kifah. At first, it is located inside the Al Farouq mosque, which is led by Damra. But eventually it will get it own office space next to the mosque. Shalabi, a naturalized citizen from Egypt, runs the office with two assistants: Mahmud Abouhalima, and El Sayyid Nosair. Both Abouhalimah and Nosair were veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war and were trained in the CIA Cyclone program.
Shalabi was designated as the co-signor of the Al Farouq mosque, and whom was born in Egypt. He had strong ties to the Afghan and Palestinian causes, which made him quite the recruiter and fundraiser at the mosque. He would also hold meetings at the Al Kifah concerning those who wished to travel to join the jihad against the Soviets and connect thru the MAK. Like Azzam, Shalabi wished to participate in the actual meaning of Jihad, the struggle within one’s soul, the fight between good and evil. The members of the Al Farouq however were quite enamored with the audio cassette’s of an Egyptian radical cleric, whose orations concerning the evils from the West and Israel were trying to interfere with the Arabs in Afghanistan thru Non-governmental organizations (NGO). This Egyptian cleric would soon arrive inside the United States and make his presence immediately known.
However, Abouhalima and Nosair would not be the only people to come out of the conflict and situated into the Al Farouq mosque and the Al Kifah Refugee Center. One notable person who was also involved in the recruitment of mujahid in the conflict and became a major player in the mosques in New York City and New Jersey was an Egyptian radical cleric, Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh”. Rahman lost his eyesight when he was 10 months old. Born in 1938 in the Al Gammaliyyah, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt, Rahman was not deterred by his infliction. He studied a braille version of the Quran as a child, and had it memorized by age 11. Soon thereafter, he enrolled at the prestigious Al Azhar University. Soon after leaving university, Abdel-Rahman began preaching against the secular regime of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Rahman had also become one of the de facto rulers of the radical fundamentalist sect, Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (“The Islamic Group”).
On October 6th 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by members of the Gamma Islamiyyah and Al Jihad (later renamed Egyptian Islamic Jihad). Rahman was one of over 2,000 people detained and arrested for suspected of being involved. The State Security Investigations Services (SSI) was a brutal intelligence service which employed torture techniques to extract information from its prisoners. They got their trade from another infamous intelligence service, the Soviet KGB during the tenure of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the early 1950/s, Rahman, because he was blind, was saved the worst torture methods. Nevertheless, he was harshly treated while many hundreds of others were hung by piano wire, drowned and even lit by electric cables on their hands and feet.
Rahman spent three years in Egyptian jails while awaiting trial on charges of issuing a fatwa resulting in the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat by Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He was was not convicted of conspiracy in the Sadat assassination and sent to house arrest in 1984, where he would shortly escape his confines in a washing machine. He left for Afghanistan to become a recruiter for the conflict in Afghanistan.
He would travel to the Sudan and Egypt, where he would apply for a tourist US Visa, all the whole he is under a terrorist watch list which is issued to all naturalization centers around the world. The Cairo U.S embassy where Rahman went to apply had CIA agents employed as its staff. There he would be granted a U.S tourist visa, however he would be granted time and time again in his renewal. A State Department representative discovered that Rahman had, in fact, received four United States visas dating back to December 15, 1986. All were given to him by CIA agents acting as consular officers at American embassies in Khartoum and Cairo. The response from the CIA was simply to feign ignorance. They had not known Rahman was on a terrorist watch list, nor have they ever heard of him before.
The Boston Globe, in an article dated June 21st 1995, will say that, “Throughout the 1980s” the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, “was a spiritual leader of the CIA-backed mujaheddin.”
The Atlantic Monthly, in an article published in May of 1996, will later report that in the late 1980s in Peshawar, Pakistan, Abdul-Rahman “became involved with the US and Pakistani intelligence officials who were orchestrating the Afghan war. The sixty or so CIA and Special Forces officers based there considered him a ‘valuable asset,’ according to one of them, and overlooked his anti-Western message and incitement to holy war because they wanted him to help unify the mujaheddin groups.” He is unable to unify the groups, but he helps coordinate some of their activities. He tends to favor the two most radically anti-Western factions led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.
By July 1993, the New York Times had penned an expose regarding the Blind Sheikh’s tourist visas approved by the CIA:
“Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism, Government officials said today. Mr. Abdel Rahman helped to recruit Arab Muslims to fight in the American-backed war in Afghanistan, and his lawyer and Egyptian officials have said he was helped by the C.I.A. to enter the United States. American officials had acknowledged last week that the diplomat at the United States Embassy in Khartoum who signed the May 1990 visa request that allowed Mr. Abdel Rahman to enter the United States was in fact a C.I.A. officer.”
According to Barnett Rubin, a Columbia University professor and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the CIA relies even more heavily on Omar Abdul-Rahman. Rubin claims the CIA pays to send him back to Peshawar “to preach to the Afghans about the necessity of unity to overthrow the Kabul regime.” As a reward for his help, the CIA gives him a visa to the US, even though he is on a terrorism watch list. Rubin’s expose on Rahman and his ties to the CIA were published by The New Yorker on March 17th 1995. Another example of the “good guys” allowing “evil” to exist, unimpeded. In Rahman’s case, even facilitated.
Another suspect that was held in the Tora prison in Cairo who was suspected of being behind the assassination of Sadat, was Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. al-Zawahiri’s background details a man conflicted between his oath as a physician and his loyalty to the works of notable authors and purists such as Sayyid Qutb and Esam al-Qamari. He studied at Cairo University and graduated in 1974. He served as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army between 1974–1978. Yet even at the early age of 17, al-Zawahiri had formed an underground cell with the goal to overthrow the government and establish an Islamist state. The group consisted of university students and members of the Egyptian military. This group would be known as Al Jihad, as it grew with other radical smaller cells which were operating in Northern Egypt.
However, al-Zawahiri was also quite adamant opposing the strict Egyptian regime under the regime of Game Abdel Nasser, and thus formed a secret underground cell after the Egyptian government executed Sayyid Qutb, conspiracy to overthrow the Nasser government in 1967. The core members of this group would be the following:
Ismaeel Tantawi, Sayyid Hanafi, Esam al-Qamari, Sayyid Imam Abdel Aziz (Dr. Fadl), Ameen Yusuf al-Domeiry, Mohamed Abdel Raheem al-Sharqawi
Khaled Medhat al-Fiqi, Mohamed al-Zawahiri, Khaled Abdel Samee, Yusef Abdel Mageed, Esam Hendawi, Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, Abdel Hadi al-Tunsi, Nabeel al-Borai, Refai Taha (Gamma Islamiyya), Kamal al-Sayyid
Sayeed Imam Abdel Azeez, Salah Shehata, Refai Serur, Nabeel Abdel Fatah
Ali al-Sherif, Olvy Mostafa Elewa.
Many of these initial members were the core founders of the “Al Jihad” (later renamed Egyptian Islamic Jihad). Some, including Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, would help to cerate the foundations of radical takfir ideology which permeated the organizations such as Al Qaeda and much later, Islamic State and Levant. al-Zawahiri would be arrested by the Egyptian SSI.
Once again, al-Zawahiri would find himself arrested, only this time, in the wider conspiracy of assassinating the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The Egyptian press called it the “Great Jihad Case” in which the court trials were held at the Egypt Higher State Security Court in Nasr City Exhibition Center on December 4th 1982.
Before the trials started however, al-Zawahiri was one of the many who were brutally tortured, One such session, which lasted a week, made al-Zawahiri overcome to the pressures by the SSI. They wanted to know about an Egyptian radical and member of the Egyptian military whereabouts, Esam al-Qamari. The SSI pressured al-Zawahiri to meet up with al-Qamari at a mosque known to the two men, where he was captured. al-Zawahiri is later said to have never forgotten this painful lesson.
It made him even more radical than what he already was. al-Zawahiri was released from prison and expelled from the country in 1984 when President Mubarak ordered the release and the forced extradition of the Egyptian militants who were suspected of being involved with the Sadat assassination. al-Zawahiri left to work at Red Crescent hospital in Peshawar. In the book “Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr”, published by Michelle Shephard,
“Ayman al-Zawahiri traveled to Peshawar, Pakistan in 1981, where he worked in a Red Crescent hospital treating wounded refugees. There, he became friends with Ahmed Khadr, and the two shared a number of conversations about the need for Islamic government and the needs of the Afghan people.”
It was here al-Zawahiri had met with the co-founder of the MAK, Osama Bin Laden. It was the beginning of a very, long problematic relationship for many, especially the West. Which led to members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad to conduct terrorist operations out in the open against Egyptian officials to pressure the government to turn to a religious theocracy. In the book “The Road To Al Qaeda: The Story Of Bin Laden’s Right Hand Man” by Montasser el-Zayat, who was once al-Zawahiri’s lawyer while in Tora prison.
“Zawahiri’s followers, mainly young people, urged him not to let the Gama‘a al-Islamiyya be the only ones active in performing their jihad duty. They wanted to put the good military training they had received in Afghanistan to use, and Zawahiri yielded to their pressure. Contrary to his better judgment, he ordered his followers to perform armed operations against some of the top Egyptian figures.
Zawahiri had consistently avoided confrontation with the authorities in order to facilitate preparations for a total coup. His wariness of high profile tactics had been reinforced by the experience of operating from outside Egypt. Clashes with the authorities led to increased difficulty recruiting members from the military as measures to prevent any Islamic infiltration were tightened. In Egypt, he faced increasing pressure to clash with the government from many of his followers who had just returned from fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and were ready to move their armed operations to Egypt to fight the regime.”
The ramifications of Rahman’s presence in New York City and New Jersey would soon have reverberating effects. Including the first instance of a terrorist attack by an Arab fundamnetlist on US soil. On November 5th 1990, the founder of the ultra-nationalist group, the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane, was holding a lecture at the Marriott Hotel located at 525 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
The lecture at the East Side Hotel, was organized by ZEERO — Zionist Emergency Evacuation Rescue Organization. Approximately 60 people attended to hear Kahane this evening. Many were from the Flatbush section, where he was born. Shortly after, Kahane was surrounded by a small group who were asking follow up questions and well wishing the enigmatic Rabbi. It was 9:03pm. Suddenly a man wearing a kippah (Jewish Hat) began to make his way toward the group surrounding the rabbi. He did not immediately notice the man, whom extended his right arm which was holding a .357 caliber handgun. A shot was fired, hitting him squarely in the neck. He fell, and the preceding commotion was pandemonium. One man near the door managed to grab the killer in a bear hug, however, the assailant managed to shoot him in the leg and escape down the hall.
The shooter immediately fled the hotel. However right behind him in a furious mob, Kahane attendees and some within his closets circle began the chase after his assassin. The assassin was expecting a yellow cab to be waiting for him, when he did not see him immediately, he entered another which was waiting by Lexington and 49th. The driver was not known to this assailant. However the driver noticed the gun being held by his customer. The assassin noticed the crowd coming from behind, and left the cab. Running down the street. The driver who was supposed to be known to the assailant, was Mahmoud Abouhalima, a red headed Egyptian, who was a regular congregant of the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn. But alas, he was not there to receive the shooter.
The wailing, loud chants of “get him!” from the mob was heard by Carlos Acosta, a police officer for the United States Postal Inspection Service, made him snap his neck and turn quickly to the right, and, who was armed himself. Acosta saw the assailant running toward directly at him, and he drew his pistol ordering him to freeze. The assailant drew his weapon also, but not in time, as both men exchanged fire, the assailant was hit in the chin…..however Acosta had been hit in the chest. Both fell. The assailant however was captured by the officers and the mob. The cold street was beginning to fill up with a menacing mob of Kahane followers and bystanders now running to the commotion. Ambulances shortly arrived, first taking Acosta then the assassin to Bellevue hospital, it was also where the mortally wounded Kahane went.
The police soon learned of the assailants identity, El Sayyid Nosair. Almost immediately detectives would retrieve a search warrant for Nosair’s Jersey City apartment, located at 40 Pamrapo Avenue. While they entered, they detain two men who were also there, Mahmud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh. Detectives began a thorough search of the premises. They would find a multitude of incriminating items, that would shock the authorities and begin wondering if they had uncovered a hidden radical cell operating in secret.
*Thousands of rounds of ammunition.
*Maps and drawings of New York City landmarks, including the World Trade Center.
*Documents in Arabic containing bomb making formulas, details of an Islamic militant cell, and mentions of the term “al-Qaeda.”
*Recorded sermons by Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman in which he encourages his followers to “destroy the edifices of capitalism” and destroy “the enemies of Allah” by “destroying their… high world buildings.”
*Tape-recorded phone conversations of Nosair reporting to Abdul-Rahman about paramilitary training, and even discussing bomb-making manuals.
*Videotaped talks that Ali Mohamed delivered at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
*Top secret manuals also from Fort Bragg. There are even classified documents belonging to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander in Chief of the Army’s Central Command. These manuals and documents had clearly come from Mohamed, who completed military service at Fort Bragg the year before and frequently stayed in Nosair’s house.
*A detailed and top secret plan for Operation Bright Star, a special operations training exercise simulating an attack on Baluchistan, a part of Pakistan between Afghanistan and the Arabian Sea.
Borelli was intrigued by the Army manuals. “Who is Ali Mohamed?”Nosair had previously heard the audio recordings of Rahman while played on the cassette-radio in his home. Where he gradually became infatuated with Rahman’s ideals. Joseph Borelli, the New York police department’s chief detective, will publicly declare the assassination the work of a “lone deranged gunman” before the press. He will further state, “I’m strongly convinced that he acted alone.… He didn’t seem to be part of a conspiracy or any terrorist organization.” even with the remarkable litany of incriminating evidence obviously suggesting otherwise.
Born in Port Said, Egypt, Nosair had entered the United States on a visitor’s visa in 1981, according to immigration records, and during the following year in Pittsburgh married Caren Ann Mills, an American who converted to Islam. Nosair was fired as a diamond setter in Pittsburgh, in part because his efforts to convert coworkers to Islam interfered with his work, New York Newsday reported. The family then lived at several Jersey City addresses, and Nosair worshiped at the Masjid Al Salam mosque, a dilapidated, third-floor storefront above a check-cashing center and Chinese restaurant. according to a Washington Post article dated, November 8th 1990 entitled “Kahane’s Alleged Killer Termed Secretive, Devout”
“Nosair has used a chain of addresses and identities, including the surnames Noseir, Nosir and Nasser, authorities said. Last year, he was granted U.S. citizenship as “El Sayyd Abdulaziz El Sayyd.” When arrested, police said, he was carrying three driver’s licenses with three different addresses and a newspaper announcement of Kahane’s speaking engagement.”
He had an active profile regarding plans for terrorism in the city on whoever and whatever, in John Miller’s book “The Cell”, Nosair had a plan to even throw a makeshift bomb at Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s car in Manhattan on December 8th 1989,
“ Nosair was beginning to convert some of his plans to action by the end of 1989. On December 8, for example, when Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev was being swept out of the city in a motorcade, Nosair was among the mostly admiring crowd who lined the Soviet leader’s route through Manhattan. A short while before, Mustafa Shalabi, al-Kifah’s militant emir, had supplied Nosair with a Pepsi can filled with explosive. As the line of cars approached, Nosair lobbed the grenade at Gorbachev’s limousine. It failed to detonate.
A nearby police officer witnessed the attempt and grabbed Nosair as he walked away. But the cop figured Nosair was just another angry protestor tossing an empty soda can, and Nosair was slapped with nothing more than a warning. Only years later did investigators learn, from an informant, about the can’s lethal contents.”
Nosair was indicted for the murder of Kahane and also possessing an unlicensed firearm, and an additional charges of attempted murder on a federal employee in the shooting of Acosta. But who was training these mujahid at Al Farouq in small arms tactical training to begin with? Investigators had run into a name, Ali Mohamed. Another Egyptian.
Mohamed’s profile is quite the mystery, and also having quite the dubious history with foreign and domestic intelligence. Born in Egypt in 1952, Mohamed enlisted in the Egyptian Army in 1971 and achieved the rank of intelligence colonel until 1984. He also worked as an intelligence officer in the Egyptian Special Forces, with duties including the recruitment and training of intelligence assets. He served with Khalid al-Islambouli, who was an Islamist terrorist who carried out the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat in 1981. After the assassination Mohamed was discharged on suspicion of fundamentalism. During the same year he joined the underground Islamist terrorist organization that had assassinated Sadat, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and Refai Taha.
For the next eighteen months, on the orders of Zawahiri, Mohamed worked for the Egyptian national airline, EgyptAir, as a counterterrorism security advisor, a position that enabled him to acquire sensitive information about air piracy countermeasures for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Almost immediately after his termination from the Egyptian military, he entered the Cairo CIA station and began offering his services as an informant. They queried Mohamed’s background and found him to be a worthwhile prospect, and they gave him his first opportunity to gather information about the paramilitary-political origination, Hezbollah. He was ultimately transferred to the station dedicated to espionage on Iran in Frankfurt, West Germany.
According to author Lawrence Wright from his book “The Looming Tower, page 180 a rather puzzling incident took place while at the Hezbollah affiliated mosque in Hamburg:
“Mohamed immediately told the Iranian cleric in charge that he was an American spy assigned to infiltrate the community.” The mosque had already been penetrated and his announcement was passed on to the CIA, which “terminated Mohamed” and “sent out cables labeling him highly untrustworthy.” By this “time, however, Mohamed was already in California on a visa waiver wire program that was sponsored by the agency itself, one designed to shield valuable assets or those who have performed important services for the country.”
However, another member of the mosque, who himself was an asset for the agency, informed the superiors that Mohamed outed himself. According to the CIA, Mohamed was terminated, from his position as a C-3 informant. This would later come under intense dispute over whether he actually was no longer an active informant. Mohamed’s next assignment from al-Zawahiri was to infiltrate a security agency of the U.S. government.
When it was learned that Mohamed was seeking a visa in 1985, the CIA claimed that it warned other federal agencies at that time, not to allow him entry. Nevertheless, Mohamed was approved of travel, and moved to the states. in September of 1985 in Santa Clara, California. During his time there he met with h Khalid Abu al-Dhahab, a fellow member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, who moved to Santa Clara in 1987. Mohamed’s plan was to set up a base of operations connected to the Egyptian radicals under al-Zawahiri. The recruitment abilities that he once was tutored and trained under during his tenure with the Egyptian Special Forces intelligence wing.
El-Dahab’s apartment becomes an important communications hub for al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad cells all over the world. For much of the 1990’s, the Egyptian government cut direct phone links to countries like Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan or Pakistan in an effort to disrupt communications between radical militants. So Dahab acts as a telephone operator for the Islamic Jihad network, using a three-way calling feature to connect operatives in far-flung countries. He communicates with Bin Laden’s base in Sudan (where bin Laden lives until 1996). He receives phone calls from the likes of Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who also visits California twice in 1993 and 1995 with Mohamed acting as his personal bodyguard.
In September of 1985, Mohamed befriends an American woman, Linda Sanchez, he meets on the airplane flight to the US. They get married less than two months later, and he moves to her residence in Santa Clara, California. The marriage will help him to become a US citizen in 1989. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1986, and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, until 1989.
Mohamed’s duties at Fort Bragg ranged from clerical work to instructing soldiers headed to the Middle East on Islamic culture. He joined the U.S. Army Reserves following his term of active duty.
Mohamed trains and lectures soldiers being deployed to the Middle East on the region’s culture and politics. He also produces and appears in training videotapes about the Middle East. In one tape, he asserts that devout Muslims are widely misunderstood.
“The term of fundamentalism scares people in the West. Everybody when he hears fundamentalist, he thinks about armed struggle. He thinks about radicals. He thinks about groups that are carrying weapons. The word fundamentalism does not mean extremism. It means just that ordinary Muslims accept everything — that this is my way.”
Mohamed would eventually become a drill sergeant at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was hired to teach courses on Arabic culture at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. He won over anyone he personally cane into contact as he possessed an air of charm, while also being quite stern. He won respect, even with his friends and neighbors, who still had questions about Mohamed the man, who was very reserved when talking about his private life. In an article by the Wall Street Journal dated November 26th 2001, they described as a man of mystery
“At some point during Ali Mohamed’s US military service, possibly towards the end of his service, he expresses a great interest in being used as an intelligence operative, and asks his military superiors to be introduced to a CIA representative. The request is granted. the CIA representative who meets him appears to have no knowledge of the CIA’s previous contact with him. The outcome of this meeting is unknown. However, after he leaves the military and moves to Santa Clara, California, his new friends and neighbors take it for granted that Mohamed is helping the CIA support the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. He doesn’t tell them that he is working for the CIA, but does say that he worked for the CIA before, and hopes to work for them again. A neighbor who knew Mohamed and his wife well will say, “Everyone in the community knew he was working as a liaison between the CIA and the Afghan cause, and everyone was sympathetic.”
Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, Ali Mohamed’s commanding officer of the Army, was visited by Mohamed in the spring of 1988 and said that he was taking some leave time to fight Soviets in Afghanistan. This was considered a ludicrous request, seeing that American serviceman could not go and fight for a foreign national.
‘“A month later, he returned, boasting that he had killed two Soviet soldiers and giving away as souvenirs what he claimed were their uniform belts.” — Lt. Col. Robert Anderson
Mohamed defied open orders of his superiors, and know he was a ,an with impunity, which gave him an air of arrogance. In an article from SF Gate Lance Williams and Erin McCormick dated November 4th 2001, Mohamed was reported by Anderson and nothing came from it,
“Anderson said he wrote detailed reports aimed at getting Army intelligence to investigate Mohamed — and have him court-martialed and deported — but the reports were ignored.
“I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball (a lottery), than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California . . . getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit,” he said. “That just doesn’t happen.” Anderson said all this convinced him that Mohamed was “sponsored” by a U.S. intelligence service. “I assumed the CIA,” he said
Soon he would travel to Brooklyn, at the Al Kifah Refugee Center, where some CIA money went indirectly. Whether from charity fronts or just “random” people making drop offs at the local mosques and center, What was known, to those in the know, was that it was part of a CIA hub overall. Mohamed is just a spoke on a very big wheel.
In short time, Ali Mohamed, the Egyptian radical fundamentalist and CIA-FBI informant was the become the primary recruiter for the Al Kifah Center and also it’s strict instructor in guerilla tactical training. He frequently spends his weekends traveling to meet with Islamic activists at the Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn and at the Masjid al-Salaam in Jersey City. Mohamed teaches them survival techniques, map reading and how to recognize tanks and other Soviet weapons. He would frequently stay at the home of El-Sayyid Nosair, where certain documents would be linked to him, as the investigators into Kahane’s assassination would find the items from Fort Bragg linked to Mohamed.
The FBI monitored Ali Mohamed teaching Nosair and some of the Al Farouq congregants such as, Mahmud Abouhlima, Mohammed Salameh and others how to shoot weapons at the Calverton shooting range in Long Island, New York. Towards the end of this period he informs his superiors over at the FBI that he has renewed his association with Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. Yet with this information, the FBI does not deter Mohamed from having any future association with the Egyptian cleric or having any future contact with his associates. Mohamed had moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 1990, while also owning a home in Santa Clara, California with his wife.
So much for the “good” men doing something.
Inside the Al Farouq mosque was another informant, who just also happened to be another Egyptian, Emad Salem. Salem had been previously employed as a security guard at the at the Woodward , and an engineer at a Best Western hotel in New York. Salem would relish old stories including one where he was to have fought as a sniper in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. He was recruited to conduct spying on Russian dignitaries who were staying at the hotel, by FBI agent Nancy Floyd, who found Salem to be quite the asset. During a meeting with Floyd in 1991, Salem would inform Floyd of a radical cleric who was inside the United States, by the name of Omar Abdel Rahman. Floyd and Len Predtechenskis, a twenty-seven year veteran of the bureau.
According to Predtechenskis, Salem remarked,
“‘I known you are working Russians, but there is a man in this city, an Egyptian, who is so much more dangerous than the worst KGB hood.’”
Salem had come through before, but now he was upping the stakes. Middle Eastern terrorism wasn’t in Nancy’s Floyd’s department. Floyd wanted to know the name of this radical cleric from Egypt. Salem told her, that it was Omar Abdel Rahman. A name not even remotely recognized by either Floyd or Predtechenskis. Floyd was intrigued to know more about this mysterious Egyptian, and so she took off wanting to find out what she could. Floyd approached a pair of agents in her own Foreign Counter Intelligence Division on the twenty-fifth floor at 26 Federal Plaza who were familiar with Egyptian diplomats who might be engaged in espionage under U.N. diplomatic cover. They recognized the name of Rahman. Floyd was now quite invested to know more.
Famed author, Peter Lance , who would go on to publish important books such as “1,000 Years For Revenge” and “Triple Cross” detailing the Arab fundamentalist plots and terrorist incidents of the 1993 WTC Bombing and September 11th 2001, would write about the initial meeting between Emad Salem and the New York terrorism squad of the FBI in an article entitled, “Salem: The Man Who Risked His Life for America”:
“The agents from the Egyptian counter-intelligence branch suggested that Nancy bring this newly discovered asset to the attention of one of their agents, who was attempting to infiltrate Middle Eastern terrorist groups. He was located two floors below, in the Joint Terrorist Task Force.
“What’s his name?” asked Nancy.
“Anticev,” said one of the agents. “His partner’s a cop named Napoli.” Given what they knew about Nosair, Abouhalima, and the blind Sheikh, FBI agent John Anticev and NYPD Det. Lou Napoli jumped when Nancy Floyd dangled Emad Salem as a possible source.
“Let’s meet the guy,” said Lou. “See if he’s for real. ”
Right away, Nancy arranged a meeting at Juanita’s, a now-defunct Mexican restaurant on the Upper East Side. Salem basically blew them out of the water,” said a source who attended the meeting. “He had beaucoups of information.”
After the meeting at Juanita’s, the agent and the detective regrouped with Nancy and asked if she could convince Salem to go undercover. Floyd was in a position where she could become the center of an investigation which was completely new to the NY field office, but she also could be on a wild goose chase, where nothing of value would be found. She was in a completely “naked” position and had to fully entrust her source who claimed he was a high ranking officer in the Egyptian military. According to Peter Lance in his book “1,000 Years For Revenge” Salem was all too ready to play the part of spy.
“If there was ever an eager subject it was Emad Salem. Dangerous as the assignment was, he’d been pining away in backend jobs, waiting for a chance to regain some of the prestige he’d enjoyed as an officer in the Egyptian army. He was an individual who saw an opportunity for fame,” said Napoli, “being known as someone who took down the blind Sheikh.”
Assuming they could work out the salary, Salem told Nancy he was ready. He would leave his hotel day job and try to infiltrate the Sheikh’s cell. The Bureau agreed to match his weekly paycheck so that he could work undercover full time. “Salem loved this stuff,” said a source close to the operation. “He got five hundred a week, the same pay as his hotel salary. But it wasn’t about the money.” And so Salem agreed to go undercover, but he had one crucial condition: he didn’t want his identity disclosed.
He was fearful,” Napoli recalled. “In no way, shape or form did he want to be in a position where his undercover activities against the Sheikh would be known. He was also afraid for his ex-wife and two children back home. He didn’t want his family to be the recipient of any fallout in Egypt.”
The FBI had a contact across the river, in the Masjid al-Salaam mosque in Jersey City as well. Mamdouh Zaki Zakhary, a heavily bearded Coptic Christian from Egypt who owned an import-export firm in Jersey City, spent a year and a half spying on the local Arab American community and the mosque. January 10th 1990, Zakhary would report back to his handler, Special Agent Kenneth Strange, in the Newark Field Office regarding one such sermon from the “Blind Sheikh”.
”The only thing they want is to establish an Islamic world,. They will do anything to achieve it. You have to understand their desire
to strike out, to avenge anything that hurts Islam. I asked Elgabrowny,
‘Why do you stay here [in Brooklyn]?’ And he told me, I want to earn their
dollars so that I can stab them in the back.”
Unlike Salem, Zakhary, who was not able to penetrate the cell’s inner circle, had no advance warning that there was a plan to commit one of the most sensational acts of foreign terrorism on American soil before the bombing of the World Trade Center: the assassination of the controversial right-wing Zionist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it,” (Albert Einstein)
During that spring of 1991, Wadih El Hage received a phone call from Mustafa Shalabi. Shalabi asked El Hage to come to New York for two weeks to take care of the center while he went to Pakistan. The center was part of Makhtab al-Khidmat, and Shalabi was effective at recruiting followers and raising funds. he agreed and started making plans to come and take care of business for the MAK offices in Brooklyn. However, all was not well in the city of lights.
The winter months of January and February in New York City are often times brutal with the massive wind flows off the Hudson River into Downtown Manhattan. With the ringing of the new year in 1991, rumors were spreading at the Al Farouq mosque about it’s imam, Mustafa Shalabi. Shalabi had been having a growing public dispute with the “Blind Sheikh,” Rahman, over where to send the roughly one million dollars Al-Kifah was raising annually. Abdul-Rahman wanted some of the money to be used to overthrow the Egyptian government while Shalabi wanted to send all of it to Afghanistan. The growing resentment for Shalabi even reached the loyal members of his mosque to gravitate towards Rahman, but it was from fear and not respect which drew them to him more than anything. Shalabi was not welcome even to his own place of worship.
On February 28, 1991, Shalabi’s body was found in his house. He had been shot and stabbed multiple times and $100,000 was also reported to be stolen. Shalabi is found with two red hairs in his hand, and the FBI soon suspects Mahmud Abouhalima, who is red-headed, for the murder. Abouhalima identified Shalabi’s body for the police, falsely claiming to be Shalabi’s brother. Shalabi had given up the fight and had already booked a flight to leave the US when he was killed. He had even told his wife to leave the country before him, thus they were safe from the reaches of the murderers, who surely would have killed them too. Abdul Wali Zindani takes over as head of Al-Kifah and apparently will run the office until it closes shortly after the 1993 WTC bombing. He is the nephew of Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a radical imam in Yemen with ties to Bin Laden. Abdul-Rahman, also linked to Bin Laden, increases his effective control over Al-Kifah and its money.
Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent out of New York City field office, would later debrief Ali Mohamed, and as Mohamed tells it, it was he who drove Shalabi’s wife. Zanib, to the airport and made plans to move her husband back home. Shalabi made the mistake of confiding with his native Egyptian associate in Mohamed, who most likely wanted ti avoid an accessory to murder as he would be the one who told Rahman and others at Al Farouq about Shalabi’s plans.
With Azzam and Shalabi out of the way, the Egyptian radical clerics suspected of killing them both, Omar Abdel Rahman and Ayman al-Zawahiri, take full control over the Maktab al-Khidamat and all its finances. All under the watchful gaze of the CIA, involved with the funding of the MAK under “Operation Cyclone”.
The trial of El Sayyid Nosair was starting, with many of the mosques prominent figures from Al Farouq and the Masjid al-Salaam attending small rallies and fundraisers for his defense. It was also rumored that Bin Laden himself also added to the defense of the man. Notable, radical lawyer, William Kuntsler, would be Nosair’s primary choice to represent him. The charges were steep and the prospect to be sentenced to heavy time were noted. Emad Salem would gradually become accepted by the members of Al Farouq, his close ties to Egypt resonated with Rahman. With Rahman and the mosques in Brooklyn and Jersey City fully encapsulated with the trial, they found almost no reason that Nosair would escape judgement, especially in a country which had such strong toes to its mortal enemy, Israel. Their prayers however would be answered,
For on December 7th 1991, El-Sayyid Nosair was acquitted of killing Meir Kahane, but convicted of firearms offenses connected with his shooting of two witnesses during his attempt to flee. The judge will declare that the acquittal verdict “defies reason” and sentences Nosair to 22 years by applying maximum sentences to his convictions on the other charges. The Egyptian loyalists saw this as a clear victory against the Crusaders and Zionist enemies. However, now would come plans to extract revenge upon the country which allowed Nosair to seemingly “get away with murder”.
The prosecution of Nosair was hobbled by the US government’s absolute refusal to acknowledge the possibility that the murder was anything other than the work of a “lone deranged gunman” despite information gained during the course of the investigation provided by an FBI operative (Emad Salem) that he had “very close” ties to the radical imam Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. Many boxes of evidence that could have sealed Nosair’s guilt on the murder charge and also shown evidence of a larger conspiracy were not allowed as evidence.
On the eve of the acquittal, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who prosecuted the case, will later speculate the CIA may have encouraged the FBI not to pursue any other leads. Nosair worked at the Al-Kifah Refugee Center which was closely tied to covert CIA operations in Afghanistan. It was also heavily rumored that even the “Blind Sheikh: himself was heavily involved with the CIA and Pakistani ISI, in their efforts to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and suddenly became famous traveling all over the world for five years recruiting new fighters for the Afghan war. Which was why he was given approval for his USA visa while on the terrorist watchlist.
In February 1992, Napoli and Anticev had identified Nosair as a member of al Gamma’a Islamiya, the same group led by the “Blind Sheikh” Rahman. Which meant, that the NYPD “lone gunman” assessment was dead wrong and the the FBI (whose files were numerous regarding Nosair) connected these dots years back. This was no single perpetrator. This was a network made up of Arab fundamentalists which extended beyond the borders of America.
“There was a cell structure here, and the other individuals Abouhalima and Salameh were part of the cell structure. It was obvious that there were a lot more people involved with the Kahane bullshit than the Police Department said. We felt there was a lot more, and we started to investigate that.” (Louis Napoli, NYPD Detective)
The results of the trial were quite illuminating to the FBI and Salem’s handler, Nancy Floyd. From Peter Lance article “Salem: The Man Who Risked His Life for America”
“The stunning “Ione gunman” miscalculation and the screwups over the evidence seized from Nosair’s house, had left the Feds reeling. The FBI retrieved the forty-odd boxes from the 17th Precinct and the current U.S. Attorney, Otto Obermaier, pledged to review requests by Jewish leaders that the Justice Department bring a civil rights charge against Nosair in the rabbi’s murder. Given the evidence problems, though, any prosecution would be problematic.
At this point, in February 1992, Napoli and Anticev had identified Nosair as a member of al Gammala Islamiyah, the radical Egyptian hate group which the Blind Sheikh led. “There was a cell structure here, and the other individuals [Abouhalima and Salameh] were part of the cell structure,” said Napoli. “It was obvious that there were a lot more people involved with the Kahane bullshit than the P.D. said. We felt there was a lot more, and we started to investigate that.”
Kay Woods, the assistant FDNY commissioner, decided to empty out a series of filing cabinets left over from an FDNY unit that had once used the office as a storage space. Woods office was undergoing renovations, and they needed room. The filing cabinets had old records and plans, which surely held no value, she decided to throw them out where she rented dumpsters to haul the contents in. Two days later, as Woods was returning from lunch, she saw an employee rifling thru the dumpster, as if she would witness a homeless man looking for any remnants of what looked like food. It was Ahmed Refai.
Refai, another Egyptian by the way. emigrated to the United States in 1970. He was an employee who worked in the Capital Budget Unit of the New York City Fire Department, where his boss was, none other than, Kay Woods. Incredulous at the sight, Woods asked what Refai was doing. He said he was looking for old artifacts to keep as memorabilia and also asked if it was permissible. To which Woods approved, due to the simple fact it was indeed garbage after all. Refai smiled and then put his head down, grabbed the contents he put to the side, jumped of the receptacle and carried off. What he took was seemingly innocent enough but strange nevertheless, as they were detailed drawings and blueprints of the bridges and tunnels around Manhattan, and the eight-square-block Port Authority complex between West and Liberty Streets: the World Trade Center.
Oh, Refai was also a bodyguard for the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, as well. But nobody knew this, not until many years later.
Salem would become Rahman’s chauffeur by the spring of 1992, driving him to locations such as Oklahoma, Indianapolis and Detroit. In one instance, the Blind Sheik was planning to attend an Islamic conference in Detroit. Salem offered to supply his five-passenger Pontiac for the trip. During the course of the ride, Salem played music, but to Rahman this was “haram” (forbidden). Salem apologized and played cassette recordings of the Quran.
During the ride back, Rahman requested Salem sit next to him, He was interested in Salem’s’ military background. He wanted to know if Salem had any experience with explosives. He responded that he did. Rahman even told Salem if he had a chance to kill the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, he should do so. This terrified Salem, for he had not truly gauged at the power and influence Rahman possessed which translated to his loyal inner circle who were absolutely willing to even die as a martyr for the radical cleric if requested to do so.
Salem just simply could not wait to tell his superiors, like Louis Napoli and John Anticev, over the Blind Sheikh’s fatwa on Mubarak and his interest regarding explosives. However, neither of the men would make consistent contact with their invaluable informant. This would lead Salem to quietly complain to his original handler, Nancy Floyd. A problem that would later have fatal consequences.
One evening Salem would act as Rahman’s personal bodyguard during a sermon at the Masjid al-Salaaam. During this talk, Rahman drew a fiery dictum which caused Salem to become quite afraid. He ran to a public telephone and tried to reach detective Napoli, bit once again, he failed to answer this pertinent call. Salem called Floyd next. As always, Floyd was working a case late at her desk when she answered the phone. ”The man is rabid!” exclaimed Salem. He went on to say that Rahman and the participants are planning something big. Floyd wasn’t ready for what she heard next. Salem had recorded part of the sermon, in which he held the cassette recorder close to the phone’s receiver and hit the play button. The voice was Rahman’s with Salem translating from the Arabic.
“Hit hard and kill the enemies of God in every spot, to rid it of the descendants of apes and pigs fed at the tables of Zionism, communism, and imperialism!”
Floyd asked Salem what he thought they would be planning? Although Salem was a bodyguard to Rahman, he was not involved in the planning circles just yet. he said that Ibrahim EI Gabrowny had invited him to his house for dinner while turning up the TV thinking maybe that the FBI was bugging him. El Gabrowny would ask Salem, “Can you build big bombs?” Salem responded, “Yes, I can.” He asked, “What do you need to build big bombs? Because the 12 bombs are not really making me happy. El Gabrowny wanted something big.” Salem said, “I need a detonator.” And then El Gabrowny gave him some demands. So they switched gears from 12 small pipe bombs into a big, massive bomb similar to the Oklahoma City bomb.
Salem simply didn’t trust anyone at this point. Not Rahman, not Nosair, and not even Napoli or Anticev.
Salem would drive Rahman to Attica State Prison located just a few miles east of Buffalo, New York. However in July 1992, Nosair called on Salem to personally meet him, he had important messages just for him. When he reached the visiting room Salem noticed it had a plexiglass partition with phones between the prisoner and the visitor. Nosair met Salem with a nod and a smirk. Salem picked up his phone, Nosair followed suit.
According to Salem, who later testified in the trial of Rahman for the Landmarks Bombing plot, Nosair had mentioned that there was an Iranian agreement with the U.S. to trade hostages and that he wanted to contact the proper authorities and be switched with an American hostage in Iran. If that didn’t work, he was to contact his cousin, Ibrahim El-Gabrowny, and start building bombs to use on Jewish neighborhoods and those who jailed him, including Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Alvin Schlesinger, who presided over Nosair’s 1991 trial for the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
Also, Nosair wanted to bomb 12 areas of the city, landmarks, office buildings, bridges, whatever they could, to maximize fear and carnage. Salem could not believe what he was hearing. This next of vipers!
After the drive back, El Gabrowny pressured Salem about building the small bombs needed for this operation in bombing New York plots and Jewish neighborhoods. Salem would report back to El Gabrowny from time to time saying to him, ‘I bought the fuse. I bought the timer… and got the M-80’s!” Salem would report all this to the FBI, who gave Salem the items needed but some were defective. Salem said El-Gabrowny was very unhappy with the timers and told him that a remote would be better since it can control a switch from a distance.
“Salem also testified about another conversation he had about bombs with one of the other defendants in the case, Clemment Rodney Hampton- el, which took place at the Abu Bakr mosque in Brooklyn. Hampton-el, 56, also known as Dr. Rashid, is accused of suppyling technical expertise, firearms and explosives to the group. ‘I have a timer. We’re looking for some more things to complete this project,’ Salem told Hampton-el. According to Salem, Hampton-el told him, ‘Don’t jeopardize yourself when we can get ready-made bombs. It’s available from $900 to $1000 apiece.’ On the subject of firearms, Salem said he was told by the defendant, ‘I am out of pistols for the time being.’ But Hampton-el did mention he had rifles and Uzi machine guns, said Salem.”
“Informant: Suspects discussed bombmaking” by Christopher King UPI News 3–13–1995)
Carson Dunbar, an ex-New Jersey State Trooper who had just become the head of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, didn’t find Nancy Floyd’s confidential source, Emad Salem, too valuable for the FBI. Salem didn’t want to wear a wire nor did he want to testify. Dunbar also didn’t like the fact that Floyd held Salem too close to share with the FBI as well. Rumors spread, even the city’s publishers such as the New York Post who saw fit to charge Floyd as having an intimate relationship with Salem. The pressure was on both of them. In an article written by Peter Lance, dated September 1st 2010, entitled “First Blood”, Dunbar had much to say about the Salem relationship with the FBI,
“Despite risking his life for the FBI for months and furnishing invaluable intel, Salem was mistrusted by Dunbar, who insisted that he wear a wire. Given that he was sleeping on the floors of mosques and could easily have had his cover blown if taping equipment was discovered, Salem was forced to remove himself from Abdel-Rahman’s cell.
Years later when I interviewed him, Dunbar insisted that Salem was “a prolific liar,” and an informant who was “out of control.” But Corrigan underscored the significance of Salem’s removal from the cell. “The withdrawal of Emad really hurt us a lot,” Corrigan told me in an interview with him for Triple Cross. It was also a move that left the “nest of vipers” around Abdel-Rahman without a bomb maker.”
Salem and Shinawy agree to find a warehouse where they can build the bombs. Salem tells all of this to his FBI handlers Louis Napoli and John Anticev, but their boss, Carson Dunbar, insists that Salem has to wear a wire so they can record conversations in order to get the evidence to make a convincing court case against the plotters. But Salem, who is only being paid $500 a week to inform for the FBI, refuses to wear a wire, saying it is too dangerous.
A heated exchange immediately started between Salem and Dunbar with the latter telling Salem to get out of his office. The FBI had been able to corroborate most of Salem’s information through their own surveillance such as the monitoring of Nosair’s calls from prison. But even though Salem is easily the FBI’s best source of information on Abdul-Rahman’s group, the FBI terminates Salem in early July 1991 as a C-1 source. Salem would go back to Al Farouq with fictitious news, that he thinks the FBI is tailing him. Abouhalima tells Salem to hunker down and stay back from Rahman. Salem’s made up excuse worked. He was freed. There was now a need to replace Salem, who was the alleged bomb maker.
“Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.” (T.S Eliot)
Nancy Floyd, now working the Special Operations Group, for undercover work, along with Ray Palmowski, a fellow agent, met with Emad Salem at a Subways Restaurant on October 14th 1992, she handed Salem a final envelope of cash. Nancy just simply wanted to thank him for what he had done for her and the agents who were working the case. Salem got up to leave while putting the envelope in his inner pocket. Salem stopped in his tracks, and turned around and had one final warning for Floyd and Palmowski.
“Don’t call me when the bombs go off.”
A call was made form Al Farouq to Pakistan. The caller needed to find someone with bomb making skills. Ramzi Yousef was on the flight to New York City.
So who would fill the big shoes Salem wore, in regards to monitoring people like Abouhalima, Salameh or Gabrowny? Anticev and Napoli of course. So why didn't they pull off phone taps on Rahman, Abouhalima or the others? According to Frank Gonzalez, 21 year vet of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, absolutely nothing at all.
“Could they have followed these guys? Absolutely. The FBI unit in charge of domestic terrorism could have proceeded the same way they conduct an organized crime investigation. You ID the main players, find out through surveillance who their associates are, and you go out and find them. On the basis of Emad Salem’s word alone, they could have gotten Title III warrants for pen registers and traps to trace their phone calls.5 They could have then verified their addresses and sat on them, then followed people like Abouhalima to see where he went.”
As for the excuse John Anticev would later give, that “you simply just couldn’t monitor someone twenty four hours a day”, well in the case of the FBI, yes….you could. Especially in 1993, when James Kallstrom, the special agent in charge who had built his legendary reputation in the Bureau by setting up the FBI’s Special Operations Group, and fully capable. The FBI simply didn’t give the attention Arab fundamentalism should have gotten as opposed to the Italian crime syndicate or “La Cosa Nostra” had been given.
Good men doing nothing.
Throughout the mid-1980s, a series of reports described the vulnerability of the World Trade Center to a future terrorist attack. Now, because of the increased risk of terrorism against the US due to the US military invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War on August 2nd 1990 , the New York Port Authority hires private security company Burns and Roe Securacom to prepare a further report, and tells them that the WTC is a terrorist target. Unlike previous investigators, Burns and Roe Securacom finds that the center’s shopping and pedestrian areas, rather than the underground parking garage, are the most likely targets. Rescorla and Hill’s report would be shaded in favor the Burns and Roe Securacom.
The New York Port Authority, seeks a second opinion on the OSP’s recommendations back in 1985. At a cost of approximately $100,000, it hires the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to review the general security of the WTC. SAIC states in its report that the attractiveness of the WTC’s public areas to terrorists is “very high.” Like the OSP, SAIC pays particular attention to the underground levels of the center and describes a possible attack scenario. Shortly after, Peter Goldmark, who founded was the executive director of the Port Authority, resigns from his post on September 27th 1984. Three years later, The New York Port Authority’s Office of Special Planning (OSP) is closed down, The reasons for the closure are unknown.
On August 31st 1992, Ramzi Yousef and Ahmed Ajaj, would leave the country of Pakistan using the services of a local Pakistan travel agent, and board Pakistan International Airlines Flight 703 to Karachi and then on to JFK Airport in New York City. They would land inside the United States, landing at JFK airport on September 1st. Ajaj and Yousef together had five passports and numerous documents supporting their aliases: a Saudi passport showing signs of alteration, an Iraqi passport bought from a Pakistani official, a photo-substituted Swedish passport, a photo-substituted British passport, a Jordanian passport, identification cards, bank records, education records, and medical record.
While awaiting at JFK’s secondary immigration inspection, Ajaj would produce a crudely made passport, in which he would state that he was Swedish. The passport was legitimate, belonging to a Swedish citizen who had attended a training camp in Pakistan and surrendered his identity cards to those who ran the camp, but Ajaj had used simple paste to plaster his own photograph over the legitimate owner. The inspectors noticed it right away and held Ajaj along with his belongings. While in an INS waiting room, inspectors Mark Cozine and Robert Malafronte, would look thru Ajaj’s suitcase in it they found very damning items, which consisted of:
Bomb-making manuals, videos and other materials on assemble weapons and explosives assembly
Letters referencing his attendance at terrorist training camps
Anti-American and anti-Israeli materials
Instructions on document forgery, and two rubber stamp devices to alter the seal on passports issued from Saudi Arabia
Included in one of the manuals was a very interesting document which was written in 1982. It had the title “Al Qaeda” which would mean that 7 years prior to the group’s formation, it was used in a context many years before it was even acknowledged as a group. INS immediately called the FBI’s Terrorism Task Force and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unit….both agencies declined to get involved in this incident. Ajaj would be held in a detention center pending his situation by NY courts on what to do with him. Yousef however saw what was happening with Ajaj, Yousef’s produces an Iraqi passport bearing a visa issued by the Pakistani embassy in Baghdad before an INS officer.
Yousef then would request for political asylum. He would be held and questioned by INS for 3 days, the INS officer who inspected Yousef upon arrival requested he not enter the country but due to overcrowding in the detention cells he was given a future date for court regarding his situation. To Yousef’s surprise, he was freed, and although he had little to no money, he managed to pick up a taxi ride into New Jersey by a Pakistani taxi driver who showed pity to Yousef’s plight, the ride was free of charge. Yousef would arrive at the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn a short while later, he would sleep inside its makeshift rooms on a cot.
Beginning in November 1992, Egyptian intelligence repeatedly warns US intelligence that Sheikh Abdul-Rahman’s principal mosques in the US, the Al Salaam and Al Farouq mosques in Brooklyn, are “hotbeds of terrorist activity,” and that Abdul-Rahman is plotting a new round of terrorist attacks in Egypt. One Egyptian official later says, “There were many, many contacts between Cairo and Washington.” Yet no action is taken, and the FBI does not conduct independent investigations into Rahman
Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, would make a remarkable statement to Egyptian press, that Omar Abdel Rahman was indeed a CIA asset while in Afghanistan. The Washington Post, dated May 29th 1993 would elaborate further,
”The sheik has been a CIA agent since his days in Afghanistan. . . . He still earns a salary,” Mubarak told newspaper editors, columnists and intellectuals at a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday. “The visa he got was not issued by mistake. It is because of the services he did.”
The U.S. version is that the embassy in Sudan that issued the sheik’s visa did not notice the blind cleric’s name on a list of undesirables — although it was told eight days earlier by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that he was visiting and should be watched.
Mubarak was quoted as saying that the case has also led to a dispute in the United States between the FBI and the CIA. The FBI, responsible for domestic security, wants Abdul Rahman out of the country, while the CIA wants him to stay, Mubarak was quoted as saying. Mubarak’s spokesman could not be contacted for comment today, the eve of a major Muslim holiday.”
On November 3rd 1992, a wire transfer from Money Gram came thru to Mohammed A. Salameh, from a Qatar account belonging to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. This was the only instance showingKSM involved in the planning stages of the operation masterminded by Yousef and Ajaj. The FBI would not catch ion to the absolute importance of this, until days after the bombing. While also in Pakistan, KSM would receive a master’s degree in Islamic Culture and History through correspondence classes from Punjab University. Knowledge would come at a cost however!
Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden was held under house arrest by Saudi authorities from the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) for fear of reprisals from his Arab mujahid, who turned down his offer of sending the Afghan-Arabs to fight against Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Army after the invasion of Kuwait. Hassan al-Turabi. leader of the National Islamic Front, an Islamist political organization based in Sudan, sends a delegation and a letter to Bin Laden, inviting him to collaborate and move to Sudan. Bin Laden agrees to the offer, but moves slowly.
He sends advance teams to buy businesses and houses. He also visits Sudan himself to establish a relationship with al-Turabi. Gradually, about 1,000 Bin Laden supporters move to Sudan. But Bin Laden also keeps offices and guest houses in Pakistan, as well as training camps in Afghanistan, including the Darunta, Jihad Wal, Khaldan, Sadeek, al-Farouq, and Khalid ibn Walid camps. US-Al Qaeda double agent, Ali Mohamed, would play an important role in the move.
Bin Laden would have Mohamed and Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri (former Egyotian police officer) to train the Arabs from the Al Masada training camp, which would later be called Al Qaeda, while operating training camps in Khartoum.
Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri’s brother had participated in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat. Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, introduced al-Banshiri to Osama Bin Laden, who was so favorably impressed that he made al-Banshiri military commander of the Afghan Arabs. Al-Bashiri’s second in command was another former Egyptian officer, Abu Hafs al-Masri, also known as Mohammed Atef later on.
He would purchase a house on Al-Mashtal Street in the affluent Al-Riyadh quarter and a retreat at Soba on the Blue Nile. During his time in Sudan, he heavily invested in the infrastructure, in agriculture and businesses. He was the Sudan agent for the British firm Hunting Surveys and built roads using the same bulldozers he had employed to construct mountain tracks in Afghanistan. Many of his laborers were the same fighters who had been his comrades in the war against the Soviet Union. He was generous to the poor and popular with the people. He continued to criticize King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. In response, in 1994 Fahd stripped bin Laden of his Saudi citizenship and persuaded his family to cut off his $7 million a year stipend. The CIA meanwhile were watching Bin Laden’s every move while living in Khartoum and began conducing surveillance.
Bin Laden would employ Wadih El Hage, as his personal accountant in Khartoum. Giving him an apartment with a stipend in return. Although he was born in Lebanon, El Hage was a naturalized American citizen who married 18 year old April Ray, an American citizen who had recently converted to Islam, gaining American citizenship in 1989. El Hage was not doing well financially and relocated to Quetta, Pakistan, but returned to run the Al Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn after the death of Mustafa Shalabi. While running the al-Kifah Refugee Center, El Hage became acquainted with members such as Mahmoud Abouhalima and Nidal Ayyad.
Ali Mohamed, who became an informant for the FBI in 1990, apparently works as an FBI informant again, obtaining intelligence on some suspects at a San Jose mosque in 1992. FBI agent John Zent becomes Mohamed’s handler. But he is never polygraphed, even though this is standard procedure. Retired FBI agent Joseph O’Brien will later complain,
“One of the most unbelievable aspects of the Ali Mohamed story is that the Bureau could be dealing with this guy and they didn’t” polygraph him. The first thing you do with any kind of asset or informant is you polygraph him and if the relationship continues, you make him submit to continued polygraphs down the line.”
Bin Laden stood a busy man while in Khartoum, his operations there made him rather popular with the country of Sudan, as he rebuilt the infrastructure to the tune of over 30 million dollars. While he operated terrorist camps behind the scenes. Ali Soufan, a former FBI NYC field office agent, who once worked under the legendary, John O’Neill, would write about these operations in his book, The Black Banners, Chapter Two: Osama Air,
“In late 1992, once the basic network was set up, bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders plotted where they might begin striking U.S. targets. They settled on the Horn of Africa. American troops were in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope — an international United Nations–sanctioned humanitarian and famine relief mission in the south of the country, which the United States had begun leading in December of 1992. Abu Hafs al-Masri was sent to Somalia to evaluate precisely what the United States was doing in Somalia; in the resulting report, he termed the U.S. presence an invasion of Muslim lands but conceded that, because of the different tribal groups in the country, it would be tough for al-Qaeda to operate there. Based upon Abu Hafs al-Masri’s report, al-Qaeda’s leaders issued a fatwa demanding that the United States leave Somalia.
Al-Qaeda trainers were on the ground during the Battle of Mogadishu (also known as Black Hawk Down), on October 3–4, 1993, when two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down during an operation. After a chaotic rescue mission, 18 Americans and more than 1,000 Somali fighters were killed. The world saw the lifeless bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets, and President Clinton soon afterward ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Somalia. Bin Laden celebrated the withdrawal as a major victory and often told his followers that this episode showed how America was weak, and how al-Qaeda could beat the superpower by inflicting pain.”
Wadih El Hage meanwhile stood working on trying to get Bin Laden an airplane from a person living in Texas who was quite familiar with El Hage, Essam al-Ridi. From The Black Banners: Chapter Two: Osama Air,
““So what can I do for Abu Abdullah?” Ridi continued, referring to bin Laden by one of his aliases: the father of Abdullah. Abdullah is the name of bin Laden’s eldest son, and referring to him thus was an expression of respect, as it’s considered a great honor in the Muslim world to have a son.
He wants you to buy an airplane for him,” el-Hage replied. He explained that bin Laden had asked that the plane be delivered to Khartoum International Airport.”
Meanwhile Ramzi Yousef, began assembling a team that would assist him in making a bomb that would be used on the World Trade Center North Tower. The following quote is from the book “Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons” by Jonathan B. Tucker in Chapter 11 “The World Trade Center Bombers ( 1993)” by John V. Parachini:
“The only evidence suggesting that the twin towers were selected for their symbolic value comes from a notebook of Rabbi Kahane’s assassin, El-Sayid Nosair. In his papers he argued for .the need to “demoralize the enemies of’ Allah . . . by destroying and blowing up the pillars of their civilization and blowing up the tourist attractions they are so proud of and the high buildings they are so proud of. Obviously the WTC comes to mind as one of the “tourist attractions’ and “high buildings” in New York City but the same would apply to the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building.”
The group consisted of members of the Al Farouq mosque who were trained under the CIA “Operation Cyclone” program in the 1980’s. Mohammed A. Salameh, Mahmud Abouhalima, Nidal Ayyad, Eyad Ismoil, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmed Ajaj. Ayyad and Salameh opened a joint bank account into which they deposited funds to finance the bombing plot. Some of that money was later used by Salameh to rent a storage shed in Jersey City, New Jersey, where the conspirators stored chemicals for making explosives. Yousef also drew on that account to pay for materials described in Ajaj’s manuals as ingredients for bomb making.
Yousef would continue to remain in contact with Ajaj even thou he was incarcerated. Ajaj never contacted Yousef directly. Calls were patched through “Big 5 Hamburgers” in Dallas from associates Ajaj knew, as Ajaj once had residency in Houston working as a pizza delivery driver while he was living inside the United States after he was released from prison by Israeli authorities. When talking about anything relating to explosives, they used a code word, “chocolates”. They both learned about masking words when talking on the phone at their time at the Sadda training camp.
According to Terry McDermott’s fantastic book, “The Hunt For KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed”, Yousef (Basit) and his associate from Pakistan, Abdul Hakim Murad, the plan was still in operations on which weapons or volatile chemicals to use,
“Basit finally settled on Murad’s suggestion. He had several different ideas on what sort of bomb he could build. He toyed with the idea of building a device that contained cyanide, the idea being that the release of the deadly gas into the Trade Center’s ventilation system would neatly kill all its occupants. This design proved too daunting and expensive, so he settled on the cheapest sort of bomb he knew how to build — an ordinary fertilizer bomb made with urea nitrate. He built several small prototypes and drove out to the New Jersey countryside to blow them up. “Making chocolate” was how he described the process to Murad. Basit intended the bomb to topple the North Tower into the South Tower, somehow bringing them both to the ground.
On October 6, 1992, Ajaj pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to one count of passport fraud. And in an act of sheer ludicrous bewilderment, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on December 11,1992, ruled that the government had to return all of Ajaj’s belongings seized at JFK — including his bomb manuals. Yousef asked Ajaj that the manuals be sent to him at Pamrapo Avenue.
The details involving where Yousef boarded and contact with Ajaj would be further explained in the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit United States vs. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, Bilal Alkaisi, also known as Bilal Elqisi, Abdul Rahman Yasin, also known as Aboud, Defendants. dated August 04, 1998
“Abouhalima helped Salameh and Yousef find a ground floor apartment at 40 Pamrapo Avenue in Jersey City. The apartment fit the specifications in Ajaj’s manuals for an ideal base of operations. In the 40 Pamrapo apartment, Abouhalima, Salameh, Yousef and Yasin mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center bomb, following Ajaj’s formulae. Abouhalima also obtained a telephone calling card, which the conspirators used to contact each other and to call various chemical companies for bomb ingredients.
During this entire period, although Ajaj remained incarcerated, he kept in telephone contact with Yousef. By doing so, Ajaj stayed abreast of the conspirators’ progress in carrying out the terrorist plot and attempted to get his “terrorist kit” into Yousef’s hands. Because Ajaj was in jail and his telephone calls were monitored, Ajaj and Yousef spoke in code when discussing the bomb plot.
I have numerous relatives in Palestine,” Yousef said in an interview after his capture. “If terrorist means to regain my land and fight whoever attacks me and my kinsmen, then I have no objection to being called a terrorist. . . . I believe Palestinians [are] entitled to strike U.S. targets because the United States finances crimes committed in Palestine…. This money is taken from taxes paid by Americans. This makes the American people responsible for all the . . . crimes to which the Palestinian people are subjected. It is no excuse that the American people do not know where their federal tax money goes.” (1,000 Years For Revenge, Chapter Ten: Ice Water And Bombs, Peter Lance)
Mohammed A, Salameh entered the United States on a six-month tourist visa in 1988 and never reapplied when it expired. He was born in the West Bank in 1967 and immigrated to New Jersey. Salameh owned a 1978 Chevy Nova which was used to ferry the nitric acid and urea used to construct the bomb that Yousef ordered. Incidentally, Salameh was quite a poor driver. So poor in fact, that on January 24th 1993, he jumped a curb and tore the undercarriage from his car, injuring himself and Ramzi Yousef. He was checked out of Rahway Hospital the following day and went to the garage to clean his car while Yousef remained in the hospital for four more days.
On November 30th 1992, Mohammed A. Salameh appeared at A Space Station, a storage warehouse in Jersey City, using the name Kamal Ibraham. He told the attentive employee behind the desk, that he and some friends were starting a company and needed to rent a locker. Salameh was given a contract to sign, and payments were paid monthly. Almost immediately Yousef was assisted by Iraqi bomb maker Abdul Rahman Yasin, who helped assemble the bomb. Yousef would begin to order the ingredients such as urea nitrate main charge with aluminum, magnesium and ferric oxide. They would be stored at A Space Station locker.
According to an article by The Federation Of American Scientists dated January 12th 2009, the bomb’s charge used nitroglycerine, ammonium nitrate dynamite, smokeless powder and fuse as booster explosives. Three tanks of bottled hydrogen were also placed in a circular configuration around the main charge, to enhance the fireball and afterburn of the solid metal particles. Yousef wanted to build the bomb in similar fashion to the bomb’s characteristics of the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing.
The details of the bomb were laid out in full in the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information Hearing held on February 24th 1998:
In all, the conspirators ordered and had delivered to the Shed a total of enhance the bomb’s 1,500 pounds of urea and approximately 1,672 pounds of nitric acid. They used 1,200 pounds of urea and almost all of the nitric acid to make the World Trade Center bomb. In December 1992, when the conspirators were acquiring urea and nitric acid for the bomb’s main charge of urea nitrate and looking for chemicals to make boosters and detonators in the mariner specified by Ajaj’s manuals, Yousef began to reach out for Ajaj.
Beginning on December 4, 1992, a few days after Yousef ordered the first shipment from City Chemical, Yousef placed a series of calls to Ajaj’s lawyer in New York and to Ajaj’s friend in Texas. On December 29, 1992, after Salameh and Yousef had spent two days calling myriad chemical companies looking for chemicals to make boosters, Yousef again reached out for Ajaj.
The day after Salameh obtained the Ryder van to house the bomb, Ayyad contacted AGL Welding and ordered three tanks of standard hydrogen to enhance the power of the bomb. Ayyad requested that the hydrogen be delivered to the storage shed, and said that he would not be returning the tanks. The next day, February 25, 1993, AGL Welding delivered the three hydrogen tanks ordered by Ayyad the previous day. Salameh accepted delivery.
The AGL truck driver tried to bring the tanks into the storage facility but was stopped by a employee, who initially would not allow the tanks inside the facility because of their potential to explode. Only when Salameh advised that a van was coming to pick up the hydrogen tanks within minutes did the employee permit the tanks to be brought into the facility. A short while later, Salameh helped load the hydrogen tanks into the Ryder van he had rented on February 23, and then left the storage facility.
Where was Ali Mohamed in all of this? Surely he would have been quite helpful making the bomb along with Yousef? Mohamed actually had other plans, like fighting against the Rabbani government. So, he returns to fight in Afghanistan, even though the Soviets have been defeated and the country is now involved in civil war. He trains rebel commanders in military tactics. The Taliban are now fighting the Northern Alliance for control of the country, as well as the communists. US prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will later say of Mohamed’s visits to Afghanistan,
“Mohamed did not make a loyalty pledge to al-Qaeda but he trained most of al-Qaeda’s top leadership — including bin Laden and Ayman] al-Zawahiri — and most of al-Qaeda’s top trainers. Mohamed taught surveillance, counter-surveillance, assassinations, kidnapping, codes, ciphers and other intelligence techniques.”
Mohamed was also travelling thru Italy at some point during this excursion. According to a New York Times report dated December 1,1998:
“At the same time, the officials said, a series of bizarre incidents brought him to the attention of the F.B.I. In 1992, Mr. Mohamed was detained by the authorities at the Rome airport whose suspicions were piqued by his luggage, which had false compartments. He assured interrogators that he was on their side in the war on terrorism, and claimed he was involved in security for the Summer Olympics in Spain, officials said.”
Mohamed will regularly return to Afghanistan in years to come, as part of at least 58 trips overseas leaving from the US. In a Wall Street Journal article dated November 26th 2001,Nabil Sharif, a a university professor and former Egyptian intelligence officer had this to say about the CIA handling of Mohamed.
“For five years he was moving back and forth between the US and Afghanistan. It’s impossible the CIA thought he was going there as a tourist. If the CIA hadn’t caught on to him, it should be dissolved and its budget used for something worthwhile.”
Those involved with Yousef knew him by an alias, “Rashid”. However when purchasing items Yousef used the alias Kamal Ibraham, and paid $3,615 in cash for a thousand pounds of urea from City Chemical in Jersey City. The chemicals were delivered to Kamal and Company at the storage locker, along with 105 gallons of nitric acid and 60 gallons of sulfuric acid. Yousef specified that the nitrogen content of the urea crystals be high (46.65 percent); the sulfuric acid had to be 93 percent pure.
According to Frederic Whitehurst, FBI Lab Whistleblower Testifying at the World Trade Center Bombing Trial on August 14, 1995,
“According to testimony in the bomb trial, only once before the 1993 attack had the FBI recorded a bomb that used urea nitrate. Moreover, Whitehurst was strongly critical of the procedures used to determine that the bomb contained urea nitrate; according to his testimony, he urinated in a vial, dried the urine and gave a sample of it to the analysts, who still concluded that the substance handed to them was urea nitrate.
He concluded that there was no sound scientific basis for the government’s public claim that a urea nitrate bomb had been the source of the explosion. When he refused to recant or to doctor his reports to support the urea nitrate bomb theory, the FBI used an unqualified lab technician to testify that the so-called urea nitrate found at the scene was consistent with a urea nitrate bomb.”
Salameh would use his terrible driving skills chauffeuring around a woman, named Josie Hadas, who lived at 34 Kensington Avenue, Apt. 4, in Jersey City taking her to stores and helping her around the neighborhood. Not much is known who Josie Hadas “actually” is. Nevertheless, Salameh seemed to be depended upon, and all for the wrong reasons. Hadas was also Salameh’s “landlord” and gave Salameh jobs to do on the side. The Israeli woman had also rented the apartment just before Christmas Day in 1992, and she had allowed Salameh to live there while she collected his rent every month. How did this relationship start? Quite strange! It was during his/her occupancy of this apartment that the chemicals and bomb components were supposedly stored there.
By mid February 1993, Nidal Ayyad wanted to do a reconnaissance mission on the target, the World Trade Center North Tower. Ayyad drove and Mohammed A. Salameh was his passenger. He left the car in the Twin Towers’ garage and sketched the floor plan, noticing that the Port Authority vans that serviced the Trade Center were yellow. Ayyad was a key figure in the creation of the urea-nitrate device.
He used his position as an engineer at Allied Signal, a large New Jersey chemical company, to order the necessary chemical ingredients for bomb making, and to order hydrogen tanks from ALG Welding Company that would enhance the bomb’s destructive force. Ayyad was born in 1968 in Kuwait to Palestinian parents after they fled Palestine due to the Six Day war, he moved to the United States in 1985, He began studies in chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1985. and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991. He also worked at Allied Signal, an engineering company where he received well pay.
What drove Ayyad to participate in this act of sheer madness, seeing he was the most educated of all the participants?
In “1,000 Years For Revenge” by Peter Lance, had the FBI properly monitoring the Al Farouq cell, the operations would have been watched by the FBI and NYPD JTTF and the members duly arrested after warrants were given by a presiding judge. It was just that simple. As the book cites,
“Yousef also made regular trips to locker 4334 at the Space Station, where the chemicals were stored, and the telephonic trail he left was riddled with clues. He was repeatedly seen by witnesses using a pay phone outside the Pamrapo Avenue apartment.10 He made more than eighteen thousand dollars worth of phone calls from the bomb factory to contacts in the Middle East, Pakistan, Turkey, and Yugoslavia.11 Further, if the Feds had installed a trap to monitor Abouhalima’s calls, they would have discovered at least eight from Pamrapo Avenue12 and four on February 3, 1993, from the Trade Center itself.
“Ramzi Yousef was so bold during this period that he even allowed himself to be captured by an ATM camera withdrawing funds while he made a phone call using another person’s phone card.13 In one of the comic ironies of this story, after Yousef’s flight to Pakistan following the bombing, his parents were reportedly harassed by phone company representatives seeking to collect on the exorbitant phone bills that he owed. Once the name Yousef surfaced in the press alongside his original name, Abdul Basit, the dunning notices went out. The phone company managed to locate Yousef’s parents. Why couldn’t the FBI?”
Tuesday February 23rd 1993, an Arab male with a slight build and trimmed beard, walked through the door of the Ryder Truck Rental in Jersey City, New Jersey. He used his own name on the application, Mohammed A. Salameh, and cash for a one week rental service by paying twenty dollars up front, along with a two hundred dollar deposit. He used his driver’s license that listed a New Jersey address and gave them a phone number. Patrick Galasso, the Ryder officer manager, who helped Salameh along the way along the rental agreement. The two thousand pound ruck, which could hold up to a two bedroom apartment, had the license plate, Alabama license plate XA70668. Salameh was given the keys, and in a short nod, walked out and drove off the lot with the rental truck.
According to investigators, Salameh rented the van to haul some material for Josie Hadas, yet it has remained unreported his point of pick up and his destination. What was also quite strange, and unbeknownst at the time to anyone was that, Salameh used the phone number of Josie Hadas.
According to the docuseries film by Nelson Martins (DJ Thermal Detonator), “The Hidden Path To 9/11: World Trade Center Bombing Of 1993, Yousef and members of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque were not featured enough, as opposed to those at Al Farouq, because of the simple fact of Omar Abel Rahman preaching more at this mosque in Jersey City than in Al Farouq which was more of a base for recruiting and training with the likes of Ali Mohamed. With Mohamed now in Afghanistan, Yousef in Jersey City and living at 40 Pamrapo Avenue in Jersey City and Abouhaliama, Ayyad, Yasin and Salameh at the apartment or at Space Storge, Rahman distanced himself from the participants.
So the question becomes the following ladies and gentlemen. Where were the “good” guys, the FBI and NYPD, who were supposed t pick up the slack and monitor the already suspicious crowd from the Al Farouq and Masjid al-Salaam mosques? Abouhalima and Salameh, specifically? Well once again, Peter Lance, 1,000 Years For Revenge, where Lance had actually interviewed Detective Lou Napoli offered an unsettling explanation,
“The FBI couldn’t locate Abouhalima, he said, because he’d gone to New Jersey. Abouhalima beat feet on us. We were trying to locate him, but he went to Jersey. Salameh was in Jersey. You’ve got to remember there are boundaries. The Hudson River separates New York and New Jersey. To work on Abouhalima and Salameh I would have had to work through [the FBI office in] Newark. The Task Force is a New York terror task force. Our boundaries are New York.”
Lance had an FBI source, who did not want to be identified, tell him otherwise however,
“What Napoli said would be totally false,” said the source. “I worked numerous cases [out of the New York office] where the subjects lived in New Jersey. The idea that they couldn’t have followed Abouhalima across state lines or needed to get permission is ridiculous.”25 So if it wasn’t a question of jurisdiction, and the FBI had the technical know-how to mount surveillance, how did they blow it? “There were supervisors in the New York office who came from this arrogant point of view that nobody was ever going to attack the United States,” said the FBI source.26 “To them these Muslims were not a threat. They were a Bedouin people running around the desert with no education. We were the big bad USA, smart and intelligent, and they weren’t.”
Julian Stackhouse, an agent in the New York office at the time, suggested Carson Dunbar, the ASAC who who approved the deployment of surveillance resources for the Special Operations Group, also deserved some blame. For it was Dunbar’s job to sanction the monitoring of suspects like Abouhalima and Salameh.
Terry McDermott, wrote in the New Yorker, September 13, 2010, that Yousef (Basit) didn’t waste time in regards to concocting terrorist plots, much like his uncle KSM, even as early as 1988.
“They had spent time together in Peshawar, where Basit had visited in 1988, on a break from studying electrical engineering in Wales. He returned in 1991 and trained at Khalden Camp, in Afghanistan; he also taught courses in bomb-making, developing a reputation as a clever designer of explosive devices. The Arab mujahideen had argued about the future of their cause, debating whether it should be confined to Afghanistan until they prevailed there or broadened to confront corrupt Arab regimes elsewhere. Basit didn’t waste time on debates; he began making plans and proselytizing. One of his cousins later told investigators that during this period Basit inspired him to join the jihad beyond Afghanistan. Basit and Mohammed both frequently appealed to relatives for logistical support. Two of Basit’s cousins and at least two of his brothers have been accused of working with Mohammed.
In 1991, Basit got in touch with Abdul Hakim Murad, a fellow-Baluchi and a boyhood friend from Kuwait, who was then in the U.S., training as a pilot. Basit told him that he wanted to attack Israel, but thought it too difficult. He would attack America instead. He asked Murad to suggest potential Jewish targets in the United States, and Murad agreed to think about it. After Murad finished his training and returned to the Gulf, in 1992, Basit got in touch again and asked if he had identified a target.”
During the late evening hours of February 25th, a call was made from a payphone located near the Pathmark store on Route 440, to the Jersey City Police department concerning that a Ryder truck was stolen. The desk officer asked who did it belong to? Mohammed A. Salameh, the caller responded. In minutes, the police showed up and took Salameh in for paperwork.
Hours after the encounter with police, a call was made to the men involved with the plot, Mahmoud Abouhalma, Eyad Ismoil, Mohamed A. Salameh and Abdul Basit Karim (Ramzi Yousef). It was the midnight hour, and the air was rather crisp, with temps down below freezing. As they loaded the elements of the bomb into the Ryder van for the trip into Manhattan, which was just a mere 7 hours away. Ground Zero for the worst terrorist attack since Pearl Harbor was almost upon the sleeping souls of the city of New York.
February 26th 1993, at approximately 3:31am the large rented Ryder truck turned slowly on to the deserted streets of Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from the bright lights of Manhattan. The first stop? The Shell petrol station at the junction with Route 440. Two other cars pulled right behind the truck, a dark blue Lincoln and a red Chevrolet following closely behind. Prosecutors will later state in court that defendant Mahmud Abouhalima was in the blue sedan and Mohammad Salameh and Ramzi Yousef were in the bomb-laden van.
Willie Hernandez Moosh was working in a Jersey City, N.J., gas station when he came out and was told to fill up the Ryder van and the dark blue Lincoln. Their next destination would be a midtown hotel where Eyad Ismoil, a young Jordanian who studied engineering at Wichita State University, was temporarily staying at. According to Simon Reeves “The News Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden And The Future Of Terrorism” Chapter One: The Twin Towers”, they picked up Ismoil to drive the bomb laden Ryder truck van.
“By 8 a.m. the van was nosing through the New York rush-hour towards Manhattan. With Yousef giving directions the van arrived at a hotel in midtown Manhattan where an old friend of his called Eyad Ismoil, a baby-faced Jordanian college student, was staying for a few days. ‘They were knocking on the door at 9 a.m. and saying “Hurry up, we are going to be late”,’ said Ismoil. T took a bath and went with them and he [Yousef] asked me [to] drive; he said, “You are a taxi driver and a driving expert in the street.” I laughed and told them I was willing to drive.’ Ismoil climbed behind the wheel of the van, and the group drove towards southern Manhattan. ‘In the middle of a major street we stopped at a traffic light; he [Yousef] said “Go to the right from here” in the direction of an underground tunnel,’ said Ismoil. ‘I did and we went down underground. I was surprised . . . He said “Park here”
With Ismoil now driving the van, the next stop was the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The convoy passed through the Holland Tunnel. Once in Manhattan, it turned down West Street and took the Battery Tunnel to the Harbor Motor Inn in Brooklyn. There was a slight change in plans however. The truck was to be in the parking agrage of the North Tower at Level 3 just after 9:00am. Yousef asserted that this was when thousands were just getting ready to start the work day. But Yousef overslept and Salameh had not awaken him in time.
Below the WTC were seven stories of underground garages and offices. Peter Lance would later describe the basement levels as “magnificently impressive” stating that:
“The entire World Trade Center complex comprises seven huge buildings, and even the underground basement boasts impressive statistics: a subterranean world of cooling pipes, parking garages and offices, bigger than the Empire State Building, it houses a small army of 300 mechanics, electricians, engineers and cleaners who keep the towers alive for the daily working and visiting population of nearly 150,000.”
In Reeve's book, “The New Jackals”, the following people who were working at the B-2 level garage of the North Tower had no idea about the incoming Ryder truck passing them by.
“On 26 February 1993, Monica Smith was one of those working in a small office on level B-2 in the town under the ground. Monica was a pretty, dark-haired, 35-year-old woman from Ecuador, a secretary whose main responsibility was scrutinizing time-sheets submitted by cleaning contractors. She had met her husband Eddie in the World Trade Center when he had gone to the building for a sales meeting, and now she was seven months pregnant with little Eddie, their first child. Her colleagues adored Smith, fussing around her attentively from the moment she announced her pregnancy. Just a few days previously Stephen Knapp, a 48-year-old maintenance supervisor, had even asked his wife Louise to bake Monica a special dish of aubergine parmigiana.^
At noon the room next to Smith’s office was being taken over for lunch. A meeting about maintenance services had finished with the arrival of Robert Kirkpatrick, the 61 -year-old bespectacled chief locksmith for the towers, closely followed by Bill Macko, a 47-year-old maintenance worker. Kirkpatrick always sat in the same large oak chair for lunch and no meeting would get in his way. Macko unfolded a newspaper, pulled out a knife from his pocket and slowly began peeling an orange.
Stephen Knapp, the next to join the group, cracked open an illicit beer from a refrigerator in the corner of the room and flopped wearily into a chair. Bill Lavin, who worked for the chief maintenance contractor for the Trade Center, eyed his friends, then decided he wanted to see daylight, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the snow forecast on the tele- vision that morning. It was falling lightly outside, dusting Manhattan in white. Lavin told the others he would be back in a few minutes and walked down the corridor towards the elevators.
A solid concrete wall separated the lunchroom from a ramp to the public car park. It was supposed to be a no-parking zone, with signs warning off anyone tempted to stop, but it was so close to the offices that nobody took any notice of the rules. As Knapp, Macko and Kirkpatrick ate their lunch, a yellow Port Authority van was parked in the zone. One of the basement army, a purchasing agent leaving the maintenance meeting, grabbed a set of keys to the van and drove off to buy some lunch. There were no windows through which the three workers could see another yellow van glide slowly down the ramp and into the same space.”
Ismoil parked near the load-bearing B-2 level’s south wall of the North Tower. There were no security guards to question the driver and the contents in his cabin area. There was no one to stop Ismoil and the others from parking illegally inside the B-2 level. Nobody noticed anything out of the ordinary. Not with so many other Ryder truck vans who were generally seen in the WTC garages either unpacking or packing furniture or depositing items for clients upstairs.
Once in the back of the closed Ryder truck, Yousef handed Ismoil the box of nitroglycerine. It is stated by Yousef himself, that he then inserted a nitroglycerine container into each of the four boxes. Yousef and Abdul Rahman Yasin, and constructed the bomb, made of urea nitrate with a main charge of aluminum, magnesium and ferric oxide particles surrounding the explosive. The charge used nitroglycerine, ammonium nitrate dynamite, smokeless powder and fuse as booster explosives. Four tanks of bottled hydrogen were also placed in a circular configuration around the main charge, to enhance the fireball and afterburn of the solid metal particles.
Once that was completed, Yousef and Ismoil left the truck thru the back, as Yousef attached the twenty foot long fuse which was covered in surgical tubing. Yasin calculated that the fuse would trigger the bomb in twelve minutes after he had used a cigarette lighter to light the fuse. Yousef and the others then climbed into the Corsica and sped to the exit. With Mohammed Salameh driving he saw something that completely frozen him, ice cold. There, at the mouth of the garage ahead of them, another van was blocking the exit!
With Salameh and Ismoil causing a deathly panic and signaling to the driver to get out of the way, Yousef simply remained calm. Expecting to die by the very device he helped to create. Allah wills it, or so he thought. After three minutes had passed, the driver of the van finally pulled out and Salameh gunned the vehicle and sped off to downtown Manhattan, lost in the cold wintry fog of the snow which had fallen at a steady pace.
At 12:17pm the bomb ignited. Simon Reeve’s “The New Jackals”, explained what transpired in those few seconds next,
“In a split second the cap exploded with a pressure of around 15,0001bs per square inch, igniting in turn the first nitro-glycerine container of the bomb, which erupted with a pressure of about 150,0001bs per square inch — the equivalent of about 10,000 atmospheres. In turn, the nitro-glycerine ignited cardboard boxes containing a witches’ brew of urea pellets and sulphuric acid.”
The employees at B-2 level were all killed instantly. They suffered for less than a second according to the FBI bomb experts and leading technicians, it was the only “good” news from this tragedy.
Almost immediately, everything went into complete chaos, not just in the Nort Tower of the Wor,d Trade Center, but also in enarby downtown Mannattan. According to the 9/11 Memorial website, under “Teach and Learn” in the chapter “The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing”:
“The towers were relatively full when the bombing occurred, as wintery conditions may have kept many inside during the normal lunch hour. The explosion knocked out electrical power to the hotel, and significant areas within the North and South Towers (1 WTC and 2 WTC, respectively), affecting the operation of elevators, emergency communication, ventilation systems, and lighting. Emergency power generators were also damaged by the blast, and shut down after 20 minutes.
Most non-cable television stations in the greater New York area were blacked out, as the transmitters atop the North Tower lost power. Hundreds of WTC tenants and visitors were trapped in elevators, and thousands of others in 1 WTC and 2 WTC began to evacuate without guidance from first responders on the scene.
Within minutes, the North Tower lobby filled with thick black smoke. Elevator shafts and stairways were vertical conduits for the smoke, which quickly began to waft from the basement levels up both towers and the Vista Hotel.”
When it was finished, the object of Yousef’s original intention failed. To have the North Tower fall into the South Tower, and have both land onto lower Manhattan killing approximately fifty thousand people. Yet the bomb certainly provided the worst attack in the city’s history. With six people while injuring 1,042 people, including 919 civilians (including an EMS worker), 88 firefighters, and 35 police officers.
The New York City Fire Department sent a total of 750 vehicles to the explosion, and did not leave the scene for the next month. What followed was the largest New York City police investigation in the city’s history. Those who were inside ;like Christopher King from Dean Witter explained the horror in full”
“‘Once we made that decision to leave, some panic set in. There were no lights, so we put our hands on the person in front of us to see and made a human chain. As we headed down the stairs, it became hotter and hotter and you never knew if, when you turned a comer, there would suddenly be a wall of flames. Towering Inferno was in our minds all the way. When I reached the ground, my face was dark and sooty from the smoke, I was drenched in sweat, but all I cared about was being alive. ‘
Timothy Lang was driving his four-wheel-drive Toyota into the garage around noon behind a silver Ford. He briefly got out of his car and made small talk with the driver of the Ford while they waited at a ticket booth for spaces to open up, he said.
“I was lifted in the air and thrown away from the car. My body was compressed. . . . It was pitch black. I thought I was blind. I came to realize I was helpless. I crawled into the fetal position and began to pray. T then headed for a lighted exit sign, only to find the door blocked with debris. After climbing over a wall, I fell over a chair and fell onto a person. I became terrified. The person didn’t move. I was crawling in every direction, until i came to the lip of the bomb crater. I backed off and curled up, believing I would have to lay there until I was saved, or until I died.”
Andree Marshall was buying airline tickets on the ground floor of the World Trade Center in the North Tower. Marshall was pregnant with twins on September 11, 2001. She was in Duane Reade in the North Tower when the plane struck. That day, she eventually made her way home and delivered her children a few weeks later.
“The ground shook, the windows broke out, no one knew what happened, we just saw a lot of black soot coming from the vents,”
Lynne Christian was in the same building overlooking Tobin Plaza having lunch,
“I could see all these woman in pink uniforms coming out of one building and going into another, I thought it rather odd they didn’t have coats on. I just though that New York was going to become a target a lot more frequently. There was always some sort of crazy activity going on in New York and this was the beginning of it.”
Peter Gseslad, a 26-year-old trader at Sumitomo Bank on the 96th floor,
“‘We were still trading after the explosion. We thought it was just lightning. We were told by the brokers we were doing deals with that there’s smoke coming out of your building. We struggled down the stairs, some of my colleagues were talking and conducting deals on their cellular phones on the way, but by the time they reached the 60th floor, people started freaking out. Lots of them just couldn’t breathe. By the time we got down to 24 it was like a race. We just ran for it.’
The FBI got the initial reports almost immediately. A enormous explosion happened inside the parking levels in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Neil Herman, the senior FBI Supervisory Special Agent in charge of the FBI-led Joint Terrorist Task Force reacted first. According to Herman, the bulletins began flying by 12:21pm
“There was a flurry of activity that indicated there might have been a fire or a transformer explosion or something like that. Within about 15 minutes the activity began to increase. I walked down to the World Trade Center — about six or seven blocks away — with about half a dozen investigators, to determine the extent of the damage and see what happened.”
James Fox, the FBI Assistant Director in charge of the New York bureau received the call about an explosion at the WTC. the first reports were a transformer had exploded, but he instinctively knew, this was no transformer malfunction but maybe, a terrorist attack!
“‘I thought, If this was a transformer explosion, it’s the biggest one I’ve heard of. In this business, you wonder if it is an accident, or is it terrorist inspired.”
NYPD phone calls were flooded with reports, victims calling for help and even bomb threats. On a ‘normal’ day in New York City, the police expect to receive less than 10 bomb threats. Between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on February 26th 1993, they received 69. By later afternoon, the NYPD and FBI came to the conclusion, this was a bomb attack of some kind.
In the epicenter of the blast where the rtuck ahd parked, the hole went thru four levels of the basemnet of the North Tower. Burning cars were hanging like Christmas tree ornaments, dangling from the edge of each level, it looked like a morbid scene from Dante’s Inferno, but this was actually real. The bomb instantly cut off the World Trade Center’s main electrical power line, knocking out the emergency lighting system. The bomb had caused smoke to rise to the 93rd floor of both towers, including through the stairwells (which were not pressurized), and smoke went up the damaged elevators in both towers.
According to the The World Trade Center Bombing: Report and Analysis, the damge was quite extensive:
“At the Plaza Level, three levels above the blast: A 100-square-foot section of concrete was cracked and lifted. At the Concourse Level (two levels above the explosion) A 400-square-foot hole was opened in a meeting/dining room near the Liberty Ballroom of the Vista Hotel. Glass windows, the partition between the Vista Hotel and Tower 1 at the concourse level, were blown out from the explosion, creating a pathway for heavy smoke migration from the Vista Hotel to Tower 1. A section of plaster-and-lath ceiling above the hole collapsed.
At the B-1 level, one level above the blast, A 5,000-square-foot hole was opened on the ramp leading to the parking garage below. The Port Authority command/communications center was heavily damaged and rendered inoperable. Walls and ceilings were heavily damaged. Elevators were damaged. Seven steel columns were damaged and left without lateral support.
At the B-1 level, “Ground Zero”, An L-shaped crater, approximately 130 by 150 feet at its maximum points, was opened, collapsing reinforced concrete and debris onto levels below. At least nine steel columns were heavily damaged and left without lateral support. Many walls collapsed, including a concrete block wall adjacent to the blast area that collapse onto and killed five WTC personnel. Doors/enclosure walls of Tower 1 elevator shafts were heavily damaged.
Some 200 vehicles were fully or partially destroyed, and many were on fire. Primary electrical power feeder lines were damaged. Stairway doors and shaft walls were heavily damaged. Some standpipes were damaged. The sprinkler system in the immediate blast area was destroyed.
At the B3 to B6 levels of the explosion, debris from the blast traveled through a three-level architectural opening (spanning B 3 through B 5) and crashed down on refrigeration equipment on B 5. A ceiling of the PATH train station on the B-5 level collapsed. A 24-inch-diameter water supply pipe from the Hudson River to the air-conditioning chillers, as well as other smaller refrigeration/air-conditioning and domestic water pipes, were ruptured. Domestic water lines to the emergency generators were damaged on the B-6 level.”
Engine 6 and Engine 7 were the first to arrive on scene. One firefighter, Kevin Shea from Engine 1, managed to enter the parking garage of the North Tower, which by this time had acrid black smoke billowing out, making it almost impossible to see what was in front of him. According to Shea, when he responded to a voice, the floor underneath him gave way near the crater.
“I thought we had a fire on the floor and might need a handline, so I turned to tell my partner. Suddenly the floor underneath me, gave way, and I fell into the crater.
I fell 45 feet straight down, from the B-1 level onto rubble piled on the B-5 level. When I fell, I grabbed onto reinforcing bars sticking out of concrete, but I couldn’t hold on. I hit debris on the bottom at a 45-degree angle, feet first, then fell on my back. My leather helmet saved my life: My face smashed into the concrete when I fell. I was conscious the entire time.
I landed a few feet away from fire — cars were on fire, but they were so mangled they were completely unrecognizable. My shoulder was slightly burned from being so close to the fire. I didn’t realize how far I had fallen or how big the crater was.
I saw bright lights of fire all around me. I also heard explosions that were so loud I could feel them in my chest. I still thought a transformer was involved.
Then I heard a call for help. I apparently fell past the first victim (that my lieutenant had originally found); this was the voice of another victim. I tried to crawl to him, but my protruding bone got caught on some debris. I crawled and slid over some big panels with metallic finish that once had been a part of the hotel’s refrigeration area. (This second victim was located at the same time I was, and he was taken out before I was.)
I was down in the hole for approximately a half hour. Lt. John Fox of Squad 1 was lowered by rope in the same spot where I fell. Other rescuers held the rope as he descended. Fox couldn’t see me at first, so I yelled directions to him. A second rescuer, Jack Tighe, crawled to my location. Then fire and police personnel converged on my location from different directions. They put me in a stokes basket and carried me out in the following manner: We crossed over the rubble on an entire level, then they hoisted me up a ladder to the next level, then we went across the rubble of that level, then up another ladder to another level, and so on. The crater was configured differently in different areas. Where I fell was a shear drop; not so in other parts.
I was taken to the hospital. It was in the emergency room that I was first told of a bombing.”
The investigation was undertaken by the FBI, as lead agency, with the assistance of the ATF and the New York City Police Department. They were hardly experienced with Arab fundamentalism, save for the few who were involved with the Kahane-Nosair murder, which happened two years prior.
They now were trying to connect the doits regarding suspects. After the blast, the co-conspirators involved in the bombing, had mailed out addressed to various newspapers. The letters had been drafted on Nidal Ayyad’s computer in New Jersey investigators would later find out. The New York Times would publish one of the letters, to which the group, “The Fifth Battalion in the Liberation Army, was called. However, no such group ever existed. The letter was read in the following:
“The following letter from the Liberation Army regarding the operation conducted against the WTC. We . . . the fifth battalion in the Liberation Army, declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region.
Our demands are:
1. Stop all military, economical and political aids to Israel.
2. All diplomatic relations with Israel must stop.
3. Not to interfere with any of the Middle East countries’ interior affairs.
If our demands are not met, all of our functional groups in the army will continue to execute our missions against military and civilian targets in and out of the United States. This will also include some potential nuclear targets. For your own information, our army has more than hundred and fifty suicidal soldiers ready to go ahead. The terrorism that Israel practices (which is supported by America) must be faced with a similar one. The dictatorship and terrorism (also supported by America) that some countries are practicing against their own people must also be faced with terrorism.
The American people must know that the civilians who got killed are not better than those who are getting killed by the American weapons and Supports. The American people are responsible for the actions of their government and they must question all of the crimes that their government is committing against other people or they, Americans will be the targets of our operations that could diminish them. We invite all of the people from all countries and all of the revolutionaries in the world to participate in this action with us to accomplish our just goals. If then anyone transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him.
Liberation Army, fifth battalion. Al-Ferrek Al Rokn, Abu Bakr Al Makee.
Yousef returned to the Pamrapo Avenue and cleaned up before the preparation to leave the country. He was very disappointed that the towers survived the bombing however. Mohammed Salameh was waiting outside in the Corsica to take him and his wheelman, Eyyad Ismoil, to the airport. They were taken to Kennedy airport when Yousef was watching one of the televisions which were reporting in the current news of the incident, and when he heard only six were killed, Yousef then got up and went to a pay phone.
Yousef dialed the NYPD 800 tip line that had run at the bottom of the television screen and claimed credit for the Trade Center bombing in the name of the Liberation Army, fifth battalion. Yousef paid $1,006 in cash for a one-way flight to Karachi, connecting on to Quetta in West Pakistan on Flight 714. Then after what seemed like an eternity to Yousef, the cab pulled back, and then forward to take off. The bomb makers prayer were answered, even in light of Yousef’s non committal to religion.
Nancy Floyd got back from lunch, knowing full well that this was no ordinary event. According to Peter Lance “1,000 Years For Revenge”, the former FBI spy in the Blind Sheik cell, Emad Salem was right all along,
“Not long after she rushed back from lunch, Nancy got a call from Ray Palmowski, the agent who’d been with her in the Subway shop when Salem had issued that final warning.10 “He was right, wasn’t he?” said Palmowski. At 3:10 p.m. that afternoon, Salem checked into St. Claire’s Hospital, complaining of an inner-ear infection.11 As soon as he got to a room with a phone, he called Nancy Floyd. “Did you hear what happened?” Salem asked, his voice trembling. “Yes,” Nancy said. Her ex-asset had been vindicated, but right now she felt nothing but sadness — for the victims, and for the opportunity lost. “I am very nervous about it,” said Salem. “Nobody listened, and I am very concerned that the FBI will involve me in this.”12 “Don’t worry about it,” said Nancy. “But you know it was them,” said Salem. “You know that it had to be. I don’t understand, Nancy. Why didn’t they take the information? Why didn’t they do anything?”
Why indeed? Why did Carson Dunbar kill the Salem CI operation? Why didn't John Anticev and Louis Napoli treat their investigation into Mahmoud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh with extra vigor? Why did the FBI and NYPD JTTF kill any additional investigations into the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, when they found the enormous amounts of evidence showing a much larger conspiracy which involved an active US Army officer, Ali Mohamed? Why did seemingly “good” men do absolutely nothing in the face of “bad” actors involved with terrorist plots?
In the late evening hours, ATF Agent Joe Hanlin and Donald Sadowi, from the NYPD’s bomb squad, came across a piece of twisted metal on the B-2 level below the Towers. It was the part of an axle from a rented van it seemed. When investigators traced the VIN number, it belonged to an E-50 yellow Ford Econoline Ryder van that Mohammed Salameh had rented at DIB Leasing in Jersey City, The FBI could not believe the sheer luck visited upon them!
“Sometimes the smallest, most insignificant piece of evidence can be that big break you need in the case,” said ATF spokesman Jerry Singer. “That vehicle identification number was like a signature on an envelope.”
From Terry McDermott’s book “The Hunt For KSM”, the following investigation led to an arrest of one of the perpetrators,
“They caught another break when the renter, a man named Mohammed Salameh, called the rental agency to report the van stolen and ask for his $400 security deposit back. Because Basit was the financier and had fled the country, leaving his accomplices on their own, Salameh was broke and desperately needed the cash from the deposit. When he showed up to collect his money, he was greeted by an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a Ryder manager. Refund in hand, Salameh was arrested on his way out.”
Salameh reported the theft to the Jersey City police, then returned the following Monday and turned in his original rental agreement. The FBI reportedly checked the agreement for fingerprints and found traces of nitrate, an ingredient in explosives that also was found at the blast site. Bingo! It was a match. According to an article by The Tampa Bay Times, dated March 5th 1993:
”Salameh telephoned Thursday morning, insisting on his money, and then returned to get the refund. This time, FBI agents were in the office. One agent posed as a Ryder official and asked Salameh about the supposed theft of the van outside a Shop Rite supermarket in Jersey City.
He didn’t have a clue as to what was going on,” said Patrick Galasso, owner of the rental agency. “He thought he was talking to a Ryder rep. He just wanted that money.” Salameh signed a paper stating he had rented the vehicle, was given $200 and went on his way. As he was about to board a bus, he was arrested at 10:05 a.m. by federal agents carrying machine guns.”
How then did they conclude that Salameh was directly engaged in the planning, fabrication of the explosives and implementation of the plan? James Fox, Assistant FBI Director in charge of the New York office, informed journalists that the critical piece of evidence was “a telephone number listed on the rental agreement. … Investigators traced the number to an apartment in Jersey City where they found a letter addressed to Salameh as well as the tools and electronic equipment that indicated the presence in this apartment of a bomb maker.”
The number used in the Ryder truck application was traced back to that Israeli woman whom Mohamed Salameh was renting from, Jose Hadas, from 34 Kensington Avenue, Apartment number 4, in Jersey City, New Jersey. SWAT team executed simultaneous raids on apartments in Jersey City and Brooklyn linked to Salameh. Agents said they found evidence of a bomb factory including technical manuals, tools and wiring as well as physical evidence — detected by a trained dog — that explosives had been present. Agents also found a letter from the resident, Josie Hadas, to Salameh. However, Hadas was nowhere to be found. In fact, the Jersey City Police, as well as the FBI, failed to even conduct any further investigation into who Jose Hadas was or where she even is.
Mohammad Salameh would claim that he rented the van to haul some material for Hadas, yet it has remained unreported his point of pick up and his destination. The International Herald Tribune article dated March 8th 1993, quoted FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette’s familiar response to their reporter’s query about the role of Hadas in the Israeli secret service, Mossad: “Even if it were true, we wouldn’t tell you anyway.” It seemed the story of who Josie Hadas was, ended just as abruptly as the Kahane assassination.
Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Basit Karim, would land in Quetta, Pakistani on February 27th. He immediately went into hiding. Neil Herman immediately went to work on the investigation into Yousef.
“As time went on and we became more knowledgeable of Yousef’s background, travel and aliases, more and more information was being disseminated around the world/ said Herman. ‘We were trying to develop information on him that had to be checked and tracked down. Many of the leads we followed were in Pakistan and on the Afghan border, and all roads seemed to lead back to the Baluchistan area.’ Herman sent his JTTF out to the area on several trips. ‘It was very difficult. Many of the leads turned out to be fruitless, but they had to be pursued.’
Connections were being made by the JTTF, which found themselves in the direction of two people. Ramzi Yousef and Omar Abdel Rahman. From Peter Lance’s book “1,000 Years For Revenge”,
“The night of his arrest on March 4, Salameh, who worshiped at the al-Salaam Mosque, was immediately linked to the blind Sheikh.16 But Rahman went on a media offensive. Two weeks later he appeared on CNN and ABC’s Prime Time Live, where he denied any involvement in the plot. He even denied knowing Mahmud Abouhalima, who’d been his driver and personal assistant for years.
The cleric told ABC’s Chris Wallace, “I did not encourage, I did not know, and I had no relation to this.”17 Meanwhile, even after Rutgers grad Nidal Ayyad was arrested and his joint bank accounts with Salameh were uncovered, showing wire transfers of eight thousand dollars in cash from Europe and the Mideast, investigators were still using the word inept to describe the bombing cell. “I wish I knew if I had amateurs, wannabe terrorists, or terrorists here,” one senior law enforcement official told the New York Times. “It’s illogical, that’s for certain,” said another high-ranking official, referring to Salameh’s Ryder sideshow. “Maybe it was their first time out of the box.”
Frank Pelligrino, an FBI New York Field agent, was given the WTC bimbing lead by Herman. He wanted to know just who “Rashid” was. Rashid was the name, Ramzi Yousef went by at the mosque in Brooklyn and Jersey City. Pellegrino and two other men from the JTTF, Treasury agent Tom Kelly and Brian Parr from the Secret Service, tracked leads all over Brooklyn and Queens. Most of the suspects involved were arrested in short time:
Mohamed A. Salameh arrested on March 4, 1993, for trying to get back the Ryder truck deposit.
Ahmed Ajaj was arrested on March 9, 1993, for his role in the bombings.
Nidal Ayyad was arrested on March 10, 1993 the FBI matched his DNA to traces of saliva found on the letter’s envelope.
Mahmoud Abohalima was arrested by Egyptian police on March 14th 1993 and handed back to the United States.
Abdul Rahman Yasin flew to Iraq, and was seemingly disappeared. In 1994, the Iraqi authorities arrested and imprisoned Yasin, and sent an emissary to the State Department to inform them that they had crucial information about a perpetrator of the World Trade Center attack and were prepared to cooperate. The State Department did not respond to the offer. On May 23, 2002, the Iraqis gave Lesley Stahl of CBS News access to an Iraqi prison to interview Yasin for a segment on 60 Minutes where Yasin appeared in prison pajamas and handcuffs. The Iraqis stated they had held Yasin prisoner on the outskirts of Baghdad since 1994. Yasin has not been seen or heard from since the 2002 prison interview.
This left Abdul Basit Karim (Ramzi Yousef) as the only supect left to be apprehended. In terry McDermott’s book “The Hunt For KSM”, the hunt was on for the elusive Ramzi Yousef, also known as “Rashid”.
“An international manhunt was launched for Basit, with a reward of $2 million for his capture. Tens of thousands of matchbooks were printed up with his photo emblazoned on them. The matchbooks were air-dropped over half of Pakistan. Basit — or, in reality, his alter ego, Ramzi Yousef — became a kind of celebrity in the jihadi world. Every time a bomb went off anywhere, his name came up. And when his name came up, one or more of the team of Pellegrino, Parr, and Kelly hit the road.
It got to be kind of a joke. Because Basit had officially become public enemy number one, he was spotted everywhere. He was driving a gasolinefilled truck in Bangkok. He was bombing American embassies in Asia. Nothing came of the early leads and rumors, so the agents were left to scour every bit of evidence they had on Basit’s crew. They tried to trace the money behind the attack, but it had required so little that even that task proved daunting. They did find a record of a bank transfer into the local account of one of Basit’s comrades — Salameh — that they couldn’t figure out. It was for $660 from someone identified on the wire transfer record as Khalid Shaykh from Doha.”
Pellegrino was intrigued. Who was this “Khalid Shaykh”? It would lead him on a multiple years ling journey that would be chastised by his superiors at the bureau and from even his closest associates and friends. Yousef was quite active after the 1993 WTC bombing. In the summer of 1994 he allegedly took up a contract to assassinate the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, which was initiated by members of Sipah-e-Sahaba. The plot failed when Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad were interrupted by police outside Bhutto’s residence. Yousef decided to abort the bombing and it blew up as he was trying to recover the device. He escaped and went into hiding during the investigation while recovering from his wounds at a hospital.
Allegedly , the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) cut a deal with Pakistani-born terrorist Ramzi Yousef a year after he masterminded the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Yousef also built a bomb that MEK agents allegedly placed in a shrine in Mashad, Iran, on June 20th 1994. The MEK is an Iranian political-militant organization that advocates overthrowing the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A month after the attack, a Sunni group calling itself Al-Haraka al-Islamiya al-Iraniya claimed responsibility for the attack.
An important tip came to the feet of the US Diplomatic Security Services and the FBI in February of 1995. Yousef was in a safehouse in Islamabad.
Detective Matthew Besheer of the Port Authority’s intelligence unit was assigned to the contingent that would pick up Basit once the overseas flight landed at an air base north of New York City. Pellegrino, who was still leading the investigation in Manila, was told to get to Pakistan as soon as possible to accompany Basit on the flight home.
Finally, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the mastermind behind an international airline bomb plot code named “Bojinka”, the mastermind of the bombing of Philippines Airlines Flight 434, the alleged bomber of the Reza Shrine in Iran and 1993 Benazir Bhutto assassination attempt of Benazir Bhutto was finally arrested on February 7th 1995, by agents of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Special Agents of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service. A tipoff from an associate of Yousef, Istaique Parker, led them to room #16 in the Su-Casa Guest House in Islamabad, Pakistan.
What Pellegrino, nor anyone from the United States team arresting Yousef was aware of, was the fact that “Khalid Shaykh”, the man Pellegrino had been investigating for years, was staying in the same building, and brazenly gave an interview to Time magazine as “Khalid Sheikh,” describing Yousef’s capture. The New Yorker will later report that the CIA “fought with the FBI over arresting Yousef in Pakistan — the CIA reportedly wanted to continue tracking him — and President Clinton was forced to intervene.”
They also find Yousef has multiple fax and phone numbers for a “Khalid Doha.” Doha is the capital of Qatar. KSM has been living there openly since 1992. Shortly after being apprehended, US authorities notice that Yousef calls one of these numbers in Qatar and asks to speak to a “Khalid.” The US already connected KSM to the 1993 WTC bombing just weeks after that attack and knew that he was living in Doha, Qatar. There is an entry in Yousef’s seized telephone directory for a Zahid Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef’s uncle and KSM’s brother. Not long after this discovery is made, Pakistani investigators raid Zahid’s offices in Peshawar, Pakistan, but Zahid has already fled. In 1993, US investigators already discovered the connections between Yousef, Zahid, and KSM, after raiding Zahid’s house in Pakistan and finding pictures of them.
In an article by MSNBC, dated, September 23rd 2001, Yousef while being flown back to face prosecution for his role in the 1993 WTC Bombing, makes a startling partial confession which shocked the agents handling him,
“On day after Ramzi Yousef is arrested in Pakistan, he makes a partial confession while being flown to the US. Apparently believing that his conversations with FBI agents flying with him could not be used as evidence since they are not being written down, he confesses to masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In fact, the agents secretly take notes and they will be used as evidence in Yousef’s trial. As Yousef is flying over New York City on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent asks him, “You see the Trade Centers down there, they’re still standing, aren’t they?” Yousef responds, “They wouldn’t be if I had enough money and enough explosives.”
Yousef also soon admits to ties with Wali Khan Amin Shah, who fought with bin Laden in Afghanistan, and Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of bin Laden’s brothers-in-law, who is being held by the US at the time. But although Yousef talks freely, he makes no direct mention of bin Laden, or the planned second wave of Operation Bojinka that closely parallels the later 9/11 plot. The FBI debriuefs Yousef extebsively and he is quite proud of his work. Often times the FBI would remark at how Yousef seemed to revel in his planning and wanted the agents to know of every detail behind them. But was also careful not to mention key names.
On January 8th 1998, U.S. District Judge Kevin Duffy, formally sentenced Yousef to life in prison plus 240 years — follows two separate New York trials. Before sentencing, Yousef made a rambling, 17-minute statement in which he said “Yes, I am a terrorist and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government.” He also denounced the U.S. government as “liars and butchers” for what he called its support of Israel.
Judge Duffy promptly responded to Yousef just before sentencing him to his prison,
“Ramzi Yousef, you claim to be an Islamic militant. Of all the persons killed or harmed in some way by the World Trade Center bomb, you cannot name one who was against you or your cause. You did not care, just so long as you left dead bodies and people hurt.
Ramzi Yousef, you are not fit to uphold Islam. Your God is death. Your God is not Allah …
You weren’t seeking conversions. The only thing you wanted to do was to cause death. Your God is not Allah. You worship death and destruction. What you do, you do not for Allah; you do it only to satisfy your own twisted sense of ego.
You would have others believe that you are a soldier, but the attacks on civilization for which you stand convicted here were sneak attacks which sought to kill and maim totally innocent people …
You, Ramzi Yousef, came to this country pretending to be an Islamic fundamentalist, but you cared little or nothing for Islam or the faith of the Muslims. Rather, you adored not Allah, but the evil that you yourself have become. And I must say that as an apostle of evil, you have been most effective.”
Ahmad Mohammad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad, Mohammad A. Salameh, and Mahmud Abouhalima, also were sentenced to 240 years for their participation into the bombing of the North Tower.
The North Tower remained closed until April 1st 1993. By then, many people who worked at the World Trade Center, now were beginning to take extra security precautions. Following the 1993 bombing, Rick Rescorla, the security manager at Dean Whitter, believed terrorists will attack the WTC again, this time by flying a cargo plane, maybe loaded with biological or chemical weapons, into it. Fred McBee, a close friend of his, will later say, “He assumed that it would be the terrorists’ mission to bring the Trade Center down.” Rescorla therefore wants his company to leave the WTC and relocate to New Jersey, but their lease doesn’t expire until 2006.
Frank Pellegrino was now chasing the nightmare known as Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. The only link left to the 1993 WTC Bombing was still alive and well, and moving around the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Making him impossible to track down, The FBI would chastise Pellegrino, saying this was a waste of the bureau’s funds.
According to a New York Times article, titled “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast”, dated October 28th 1993, the FBI informant, Emad Salem would run into a “conspiracy” involving FBI malfeasance himself,
“Emad Salem secretly recorded hundreds of hours of telephone conversations with his FBI handlers. Federal authorities denied Salem’s view of events and the New York Times concluded that the tapes “do not make clear the extent to which Federal authorities knew that there was a plan to bomb the World Trade Center, merely that they knew that a bombing of some sort was being discussed.” But for the recordings, Emad would have been charged as a co-conspirator. It was recordings that were never provided to the New York Times that prevented the FBI from charging Emad.”
In the wake of the bombing and the chaotic evacuation which followed, the World Trade Center and many of the firms inside of it revamped emergency procedures, particularly with regard to evacuation of the towers. The New York Port Authority was to govern as the main security for the World Trade Center buildings. All packages were scanned at various checkpoints then sent up to the proper addressee. Rescorla’s warnings still were not heeded, but he set up a monthly fire exercise for those at Dean Whitter. 6 years later, it would ended up saving over 3,000 lives in the wake of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks.
Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” was arrested on June 24th 1993, along with nine of his followers who were involved in a follow up plot to bomb New York City landmarks, also known as the “Landmarks Bombing Plot” to which FBI involved Emad Salem to be involved in penetrating Rahman’s cell once again. The FBI had helped set up a warehouse in Jamaica, Queens outfitted with hidden cameras and recording devices which showed members of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque mixing what was called the “witches brew”.
October 1st 1995, he was convicted of seditious conspiracy, solicitation to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, conspiracy to murder President Mubarak, solicitation to attack a U.S. military installation, and conspiracy to conduct bombings; in 1996 he was sentenced to life in solitary confinement without parole. It seemed Emad Salem had done his job of not only recording the Rahman cell, but also recordings of his FBI handlers. Salem wanted this as a “wild card”, in case the FBI tried to commit anymore dubious behaviors.
In the end, the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, opened up new wounds, which left many people physically and also mentally injured.
Located in the 9/11 Memorial Museum are the following words, which are posted on the website itself:
“Nineteen years ago, a group of terrorists detonated explosives in an abandoned van in the public parking garage beneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center. This brutal attack killed six innocent people.
We remember them: John DiGiovanni, Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen A. Knapp, William Macko, Wilfredo Mercado and Monica Rodriguez Smith, who was pregnant when she was killed. Their names are now forever inscribed in bronze on the 9/11 Memorial among the thousands of names of those killed on 9/11. They remind us that these events are inextricably linked, and of our sacred obligation to never forget those who were killed.”