Monday, August 29, 2005

Who is Ramzi Yousef ? and Why You Should Care

note: If you have already heard the audio, you may use the "stop" or red "X" on your browser to over-ride the replay

Able Danger Isn't the Only Question the 9-11 Commission Leaves Unanswered

Inside 9-11 on the National Geographic Channel was certainly one of the best documentaries on the topic of the September 11th and the war launched against western nations, particularly against the United States by radical Islamic groups and their allies.

If you haven't seen the two part program yet, please consult the National Geographic Inside 9-11 webpage to learn when encore presentations are scheduled.

As with the disclosure that the September 11th Commission missed important information from a Pentagon program called "Able Danger" (Flopping Aces covers this like asphalt on a freeway) The National Geographic report brings to mind additional clues that the 9/11 Commission seems to have ignored.

In it's reporting, National Geographic traces the threads of terrorist groups as the threats grow and build to ever more deadly attacks against the United States. In the early years, there was no Al Queda as such, but a seemingly loose group of fanatics, many with ties to countries and organizations that were committed to violent acts against the U.S.

The attack on the World Trade Center in February 1993, a few weeks into the presidency of Bill Clinton, was the first foreign instigated terror attack on American soil in the modern age. It was treated by the new administration as a law enforcement problem. Yet the warning signs that it was something much larger, portending more ominous and deadly attacks was clear.

Less than two years later, Laurie Mylroie wrote "THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMB: Who is Ramzi Yousef? And Why It Matters in The National Interest in which she describes doubts that this was the work of a loose knit band of Islamic radicals, and disclosing that the FBI agents charged with investigating the crime also saw strong indications of a state sponsor for that terrorist act, namely Iraq.

I know if you dare to suggest Iraq had a hand in terrorism against the United States or weapons of mass destruction, you'll be called a liar by the same people who thought just the opposite when Democrats made such claims. But let's move forward shall we?

Iraqi Fingerprints All Over 1993 WTC Bombing

Ramzi Yousef, entered the United States in 1992 using a fake Iraqi passport. Yousef lived in Jersey City, New Jersey in the company of a number of Iraqis and Palestinian Mohammad Salameh, who placed 46 phone calls in rapid succession to his uncle in Iraq, who worked for the Palestinian office in Baghdad after being expelled from Israel for terrorism. Considering his uncle's position and the close relationship between Palestinian terror organizations and the Iraq Security Services, it may be a reasonable assumption that the I.S.S. was aware, or perhaps more directly involved, in the plot to bomb the World Trade Center.

On February 26, 1993, the anniversary of Kuwait's liberation from Iraq's brutal occupation, the bomb that Yousef and company manufactured, exploded in a rented Ryder truck in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. The intention of the bombers was to topple one tower into the other.

One of the conspirators, Abdul Rahman Yasin fled to Baghdad, where ABC News reported he was staying at his father's house, an official in the Iraqi government. Ramzi Yousef escaped to Pakistan hours after the attack. He used a temporary Pakastani passport based on suspicious documents from Kuwait, which could have easily been tampered with by Iraqi Intelligence during the occupation. In Pakistan, he stayed in a guest house owned by Osama bin Laden where he got reacquainted with his Uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, later arrested in Pakistan as Al Queda's Operations Chief.

In Pakistan, Khalid and Yousef were joined by Abdul Hakim Murad, "an old friend of Yousef's, the three discussed airplanes and pilot training. After a few months, all three were dispatched to Manila, the Philippines, under orders from Osama bin Laden to begin plotting direct strikes on the United States." (link )

While in Manila, Murad and Yousef manufactured nitrogylcerine in an apartment near the Vatican embassy. They placed a test bomb on a Philippine airliner, killing one passenger. Their next plot to kill Pope John Paul II on a visit to Manila was foiled when the batch of explosives they were making caught fire on January 5, 1995.

Yousef and Khalid fled the scene and returned to Pakistan where Yousef was captured on February 7th and returned to the United States and was convicted for the 1993 WTC bombing. Murad was apprehended in Manila as he tried to escape. After being tortured by Philippine's police with lit cigarettes, Murad finally confessed when police posed as Israeli Mossad agents, threatened to take him to Israel. He was also turned over to the United States and convicted in 1996 along with Yousef and another man for the plot to blow up the jetliners.

In the apartment, papal style robes were found that would have allowed them to get close to the Holy Father with a bomb. But even more important, Yousef's laptop computer was discovered containing plans to bomb American planes over the Pacific two weeks later and hijack aircraft to use as weapons against buildings in the United States, including the World Trade Center. (link)

FBI and CIA Knew of Plans to Use Planes as Weapons Against the WTC and Other Buildings in 1995

From Local is Global: A computer expert who regularly assists the National Bureau of Investigation (the Philippine FBI counterpart) and the Philippine National Police in their investigations of computer-related crimes said he downloaded the files, revealing the terrorists' diabolical project. One plan, code-named "Bojinka" called for the hijacking of U.S.-bound commercial airliners from various Asian capitals and then, according to him, crashing them into "key structures in the United States: The World Trade Center, the White House, the Pentagon, the Transamerican Tower, and the Sears Tower were among the prominent structures that had been identified in the plans that we had decoded."

From Bust and Boom: Philippine investigators called in their American counterparts for help. This was standard operating procedure. According to U.S. and Philippine officials interviewed for this article, both the CIA Manila station chief and the resident FBI legal attaché were notified. A team of intelligence agents flew in from Washington.
[Quoting Aida Fariscal, the retired Philippine policewoman who was instrumental in capturing Murad]:

The FBI knew all about Yousef's plans," she says. "They'd seen the files, been inside 603 [Yousef's apartment]. The CIA had access to everything, too . . .

What happened to the information in the laptop computer?

"Robert Heafner, the FBI chief in Manila at the time, who is now retired, said the information was heeded. "I believe everything was done that could have been done," he said. " (link)

At about the same time as the FBI and CIA were investigating this information, Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration was busy building a wall to make it more difficult for law enforcement and national security agencies like the FBI and CIA to share information. See the actual signed memo here in PDF format. On page two, Ms. Gorelick states that her instructions "go beyond what is legally required."

Mary Jo White, the Clinton appointed US Attorney in New York who tried the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and the airline plotters sent out a string of memos to Jamie Gorelick and Attorney General Reno warning of the dire consequences of the Gorelick policy:

From NY's Cassandra, Memos by US Attorney White: "This is not an area where it is safe or prudent to build unnecessary walls or to compartmentalize our knowledge of any possible players, plans or activities,"
"The single biggest mistake we can make in attempting to combat terrorism is to insulate the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house, unless such insulation is absolutely necessary. Excessive conservatism . . . can have deadly results."
"We must face the reality that the way we are proceeding now is inherently and in actuality very dangerous."
"What troubles me even more than the known problems we have encountered are the undoubtedly countless instances of unshared and unacted-upon information that reside in some file or other or in some head or other or in some unreviewed or not fully understood tape or other,"
"These can be disasters waiting to happen."
See one of the One of the signed memos here.

Even in the face of that obvious and unnecessary obstruction, it is believed that some of the threat information made it through to President Clinton. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Buzz" Patterson who later wrote: "Dereliction of Duty" was one of Clinton's Military Aides during that period. The Military Aide is the one who carries the nuclear "football" or briefcase containing the codes for launching a nuclear strike.

During one trip to Camp David, Patterson describes how he learned of the threat to use planes as weapons, presumably based on the information from Yousef's computer:

One late-summer [1996] Saturday morning, the president asked me to pick up a few days' worth of PDBs that had accumulated in the Oval Office. He gave them to me with handwritten notes stuffed inside the folders and asked that I deliver them back to the NSC.

I opened the PDB to rearrange the notes and noticed the heading "Operation Bojinka." I keyed on a reference to a plot to use commercial airliners as weapons and another plot to put bombs on U.S. airliners. Because I was a pilot, this naturally grabbed my attention. I can state for a fact that this information was circulated within the U.S. intelligence community, and that in late 1996 the president was aware of it.

9/11 Commission Ignores "The Wall" and Early Threat Info

The Commission chartered to investigate the September 11th atrocities and the underlying intelligence and political failures did take the statement of Laurie Mylorie, who raised the questions about Ramzi Yousef and Iraq's involvement in terrorism and "The Wall".

But the report itself never mentions what became of Ramzi Yousef's laptop computer and the wealth of threat information it contained. The Commission does not explore the matter of Presidential Daily Briefings warning of attacks using jetliners in 1996. The Commission also did not interview any of the FBI agents who were mentioned in connection with the Bojinka investigation in the Philippines. Neither did the Commission seek additional information based on the numerous news stories on the topic.

However, the report does reveal the Presidential Daily Briefing to President Clinton on December 4, 1998 "SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks." (middle to bottom of page here)

Allan J. Favish's excellent article "What the 9/11 Commission Missed" goes into greater detail on these subjects and is a superb resource for this issue.

The Commission discussed ad nauseam what National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice knew and when she knew it. The Commission focused intense scrutiny on the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing to President Bush, entitled: "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike US." (PDB image here ).

Did the Commission attempt to sidestep the information passed to the Clinton Administration six years before the attacks so as not to embarrass Commission member Jamie Gorelick, who had an obvious conflict of interest?

While the Commission did contribute a great deal to our knowledge about the attacks and the terror network, it is becoming increasingly apparent that it failed to live up to it's mission in several key areas.

The verdict of history will one day pass judgement on the value of the Commission's work.

Background Information: The Link Between Iraq and Osama bin Laden and Terrorism

The Commission's report does describe the links between Iraq and bin Laden: (Chapter Two, bottom of page) in rather vague terms.

And yet, the following information, which was broadcast on ABC two years before September 11th and four years before the Committee wrote it's report received scant attention:

Commentary provided by "The War Room with Quinn and Rose." Thanks to Cao's Blog for pointing me to the source.

If you prefer the video news report without commentary, it is here by way of Media Research.

Captured in Iraq, Poster of Saddam celebrating the September 11th atrocities.


"What the 9/11 Commission Missed," Allan J. Favish,, August 25, 2004

Flopping Aces: The Connection series.

"Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties," Scott Wheeler,, October 04, 2004

Iraq Survey Group Final Report, 30 September 2004

Bin Laden and Iraqi Connections. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Chapter two. July 9, 2003

"Statement of Laurie Mylroie to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States," July 9, 2003

"Sept. 11 Plaintiffs Win Case Against Iraq." Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal05-08-2003

"Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Endangered America's Long-Term National Security," Buzz Patterson, Regnery Publishing, March 2003

Ramzi Yousef bio at

"Salman Pak: Iraq's Smoking Gun Link to 9/11?", with original story from Newsmax and satellite imagery from SpaceImaging.Com.

Bust and Boom," Matthew Brzezinski. The Washington Post. Dec 30, 2001

"Local Is Global: Bomb Plots in Manila, Mayhem in Manhattan," Luis H. Francia, The Village Voice, September 26 - October 2, 2001

"Borderless Network of Terror: Bin Laden Followers Reach Across Globe," Doug Struck, et. al., Washington Post , September 23, 2001; Page A01

"THE IRAQ CONNECTION: Blood Baath," R. James Woolsey, The New Republic Online, September 13, 2001

"Iraqi Complicity in the World Trade Center Bombing and Beyond," Laurie Mylroie, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. 3 No. 6 June 2001

ABC News Sheila MacVicar Report with Quinn and Rose Commentary.

Democrat Leaders statement's on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Program

"Plane terror suspects convicted on all counts", CNN, September 5, 1996

US Attorney Mary Jo White memo to Janet Reno regarding "The Wall." June 13, 1995

The Gorelick "Wall" memo, in PDF format.

"THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMB: Who is Ramzi Yousef? And Why It Matters," Laurie Mylroie, The National Interest, Winter, 1995/96

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