If 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 9-11.
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?
September 11, 2004