Oliver Stone ever wants to make a movie that will have a bigger
box office draw than his film, JFK, he should visit with author
Peter Lance about a plot line. In his book, A
1000 Years for Revenge, investigative reporter Lance exposes
the unreported intelligence gaps that led to the horrors of 9-11.
Lance unveils shattering new evidence regarding Ramzi Yousef, the
terror mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing. After
his capture and trial, Yousef planned and communicated – from his
prison cell – the July 17, 1996 bombing of TWA Flight 800 that killed
230 people. He also helped create the plot that ultimately led to
the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Why are Lance's findings so important? Because the recently published
report of the 9-11 Commission states that it was Yousef's uncle,
Khaled Shaik Mohammad (who will be referred to from this point on
as KSM), who was solely responsible for originating the plot that
led to the events of 9-11.
Peter Lance chronicles blunder upon blunder made by U.S. government
agencies – but principally the FBI – for twelve years starting in 1989.
Culpability runs through the administrations of George H.W. Bush,
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
On four successive weekends in July of 1989 the FBI followed a group
of Middle Eastern men from an Islamic mosque in Brooklyn to a shooting
range in Calverton, Long Island. One of these men would later be
convicted of murdering a rabbi in New York City, one became the
trainer of Osama bin Laden's bodyguard in Afghanistan and three
of the other men that were followed to Calverton would be convicted
of plotting the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. In other
words, these men were participants in the "mother of all terrorist
cells" twelve years prior to September 11, 2001.
On November 5, 1990 Rabbi Meier Kahane was killed by one of the
Calverton shooters, El Sayyid Nosair. In searching the murderer's
home the FBI found 47 boxes of evidence suggesting a broad international
conspiracy. Two other Calverton shooters, Mahmud Abouhalima and
Mohammed Salameh, who were questioned at the time and then released,
were later convicted in the first World Trade Center bombing trial.
In July of 1990 a close associate of Osama bin Laden's, Sheikh Omar
Abdel Raham, entered the United States despite being on a "watch
list." He began a campaign to unseat the head of the Brooklyn
mosque where the Calverton shooters congregated and succeeded this
former leader when that person was murdered on February 26, 1991.
The mosque then became a "bricks and mortar" outpost for
Osama bin Laden in the heart of New York City.
In 1991 FBI Special Agent Nancy Floyd recruited an Egyptian U.S.
naturalized citizen, Emad Salem, to work as an FBI asset within
the Brooklyn mosque. Salem subsequently discovered a plot to bomb
twelve locations in and around New York City. But in 1992 Nancy
Floyd's new boss, Carson Dunbar, effectively drove Salem to cease
his activities as a mole, thus depriving the FBI of its chief asset
in the Brooklyn mosque.
On September 1, 1992 Ramzi Yousef arrived in New York City. During
the fall of 1992 Yousef built the 1,500-pound bombing device that
eventually killed six people and wounded one thousand more on 2/26/93
at the World Trade Center.
Within hours of this bombing a U.S. attorney, Mary Jo White, ordered
the FBI to bring Emad Salem back into the fold. His work later led
to the prevention of the terrorist plot to blow up New York City
landmarks such as the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge.
Had he not been driven away from his work by the FBI earlier, Salem
might very well have led the government directly to Ramzi Yousef
and his bomb factory prior to the first World Trade Center bombing.
As things turned out, Yousef left New York City on the night of
2/26/93 and eventually established a new terrorist cell with his
uncle, KSM, in the Philippines. By November of 1994 they had set
up a bomb factory and had incubated three separate terrorist plots.
The first called for the murder of Pope John Paul II. The second
plot was to plant bombs on eleven commercial airline flights from
Asia to the United States. The third plot was the hijack-airliners-fly-them-into-buildings
scenario that led to the events of 9-11.
All three of these plots were uncovered when an accidental fire
took place at Yousef's headquarters. Although Yousef and KSM escaped
the country after the fire, their associate (Abdul Hakim Murad)
was captured and successfully interrogated by a Philippine Colonel,
Rodolfo Mendoza. He turned the details of all three plots over to
the U.S. embassy in Manila in 1995 and the documents were subsequently
turned over to the FBI later that year.
One month after the capture of Murad, Yousef was arrested in Islamabad,
Pakistan at a boarding house controlled by Osama bin Laden. Although
the FBI falsely took credit for his capture, their agents did fail
to search the rest of the 20-room guesthouse where KSM was not only
staying in a room on the ground floor, but actually gave an interview
to TIME magazine using his own name.
Yousef was returned to the United States and convicted for his roles
in both the World Trade Center bombing and the plot to blow up the
eleven commercial airliners. In neither trial was any mention made
of the plot to crash airliners into buildings such as was done on
Although KSM was also indicted for his role in planning the plot
to blow up the eleven commercial airliners, his indictment was sealed
and not made public until 1998. As a fugitive, KSM was never treated
by the United States in the same way as his nephew, Yousef, was
until after 9-11.
While Yousef was in his jail cell awaiting trial in New York, he
ordered the bombing of TWA Flight 800 that took place on 7/17/96.
This bombing was executed in exactly the way Yousef and KSM had
planned to bomb the eleven commercial airliners flying from Asia
to the United States. Yousef's motivation for the bombing was to
effect a mistrial in his own terror-bombing case.
The FBI was alerted to Yousef's plans to bomb a flight such as TWA
800 well in advance of its occurrence. Yousef confided the information
to a prison informant – Greg Scarpa, Jr. – who even passed
along a detailed sketch of the bomb-trigger device designed by Yousef.
A picture of this document is included in the appendix to 1000
Years for Revenge.
Peter Lance connects all of the dots between what the U.S. government
has known from 1989 on about the Calverton shooters, Osama bin Laden's
"bricks and mortar" outpost in Brooklyn, Ramzi Yousef,
the first World Trade Center bombing, Khaled Shaik Mohammad, the
three terrorists plots hatched in Manila, KSM's "escape,"
and the bombing of TWA Flight 800. In order to do so he conducted
dozens of first person, taped interviews with individuals such as
the Philippine interrogator, Colonel Mendoza, who first uncovered
all three of the Yousef-KSM plots.
Lance has also reviewed hundreds of declassified documents and read
over 40,000 pages of court records for the first World Trade Center
bombing trial and other cases. Peter Lance is also a five-time,
Emmy-winning investigative reporter. Calling Oliver Stone! Calling
Oliver Stone! Oliver Stone, can you hear us?
W. Tofte [send him mail] is
the manager of the BWIA Private Investment Fund and the author of
Principled and Grow Rich: Your Guide to Investing Successfully in
Both Bull and Bear Markets. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa.