Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993
Growing Evidence Points to Role of FBI Operative
By Ralph Schoenman
(published in Prevailing Winds Magazine, Number 3, 1993)
Simultaneous with the detonation of an explosive bomb at the World Trade Center in New York on February 26 of this year (1993), FBI investigators were en route to New York.
"Even as office workers were trying to pry their way out of stalled elevators or stagger down smoky stairwells in the wake of a devastating explosion last Friday," wrote Ronald J. Ostrow and Robin Wright (Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1993), under the headline "U.S. Tackling Blast Probe on Unprecedented Scale," "a special team of men and women were leaving FBI headquarters here for the next flight to New York."
Not only the FBI was so prompt. "Thousands of people and dozens of agencies here and abroad sprang into action. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything bigger, except maybe the Kennedy Assassination,’ said one counter terrorism official."
Officials declared that the vast scale of their "investigation" notwithstanding, "it will take several months (emphasis added) before the forensic aspects are completed," if only because the bombing "could," according to CIA analyst Graham Fuller, "be an operational decision dating back a year that doesn’t have any relationship with immediate events" (Ibid.).
The ink wasn’t dry on the press release before the discovery of the alleged culprit in the bombing was announced by these same agencies within hours of their prior declaration, evincing investigative skills that eclipsed any heretofore in evidence. How was this accomplished?
A REFUND AND A CAR FRAGMENT
"He wanted his money back," begins a story by Ralph Blumenthal under the subheading, "Insistence on a Refund for a Van Led to the Arrest of Blast Suspect" (New York Times, March 5, 1993). Mohammed A. Salameh had returned three times to a Ryder Truck Rental dealer in Jersey City requesting a refund of the $400 cash deposit he had placed on a yellow Ford Econoline van that, he stated, had been stolen the night preceding the explosion.
How then had the authorities linked Salameh’s request to the World Trade Center? It seemed unlikely, "(b)ecause the huge bomb had cored the garage with a crater spanning several parking levels, much of the vital evidence," reported The New York Times in the very story implicating Salameh, "including what remained of the vehicle suspected of delivering the bomb, was … buried under tons of rubble at the bottom."
There appeared to be no possibility of recovering anything of use for a very long time, given the force of the blast. "Top officials, including James M. Fox, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, despaired of being able to reach evidence because of the unstable and unsafe conditions underground.
Nonetheless, agents of the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) suddenly came forward with "yellow pieces of a vehicle that appeared to been blown apart with particular ferocity. One of the fragments carried a part identification number."
This discovery supposedly occurred on the Sunday morning following the Friday blast. By the same afternoon, the FBI had identified the presumptive source of the explosion, describing the vehicle as "a model 350 Ford Econoline van, color yellow," tracing it to Ryder Truck Rental (one of the largest lease chains in the United States) and then to a specific Ryder dealership on the property of Rockview Auto Sales, a used-car lot in a section of Jersey City not far from the apartment of Salameh and from the walk-up mosque of a blind Egyptian cleric named Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman. To date, the fragment bearing the serial number has not been produced.
Salameh’s biography was distributed instantly to the media, replete with claimed political sympathies and associations going back years. "Suspect Tied to Islamic Fundamentalist Sect" was the subheading of The New York Times story (Ibid.) whose account of the "evidence" and Salameh’s arraigment without bail before Judge Richard Owen of Federal District Court in Manhattan was breathless, "concluding a tumultuous day in a case that has drawn national attention and … statements by President Clinton, the Governors of New York and New Jersey and other officials."
White House spokesperson George Stephanopoulos confirmed the arrest. Acting Attorney General Stuart M. Gerson followed Stephanopoulos, declaiming, "It’s a remarkable day in the history of the FBI."
DISARRAY AND CONTRADICTORY SIGNALS
Federal and city field operatives seemed less than pleased by the Washington announcements. "the unusual statements virtually preempted announcements by the federal and local investigators in New York working on the case and touched off a flap of angry recriminations. The arrest’s timing brought on another bitter dispute. City law-enforcement officials, bristling for days over what they called news leaks by federal officials, said a New York Newsday report, tracing the van to a rental agency in Jersey City, had forced a premature arrest." Nonetheless, "there was no indication that the newspaper was asked to withhold the article."
The disarray amongst high ranking officials and the contradictory signals regarding the release of politically charged declarations was a tell-tale sign that there were central features of the events about which government officials were seriously concerned and that the authorities wished to conceal.
The New York Times noted that at the Stephanopoulos press conference, Acting Attorney General Gerson became disturbed when asked about the motivations for the bombing. "I don’t know the answer to that," he replied, adding, "and I wouldn’t tell you if I did" (Ibid.), a cryptic reply echoed by FBI Director William Sessions.
The New York Times article was less reticent. Salameh was linked to Sheikh Rahman, to "several radical groups that make up the Egyptian branch of Islamic Jihad," through the Sheikh to "the 1982 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat." To a Brooklyn mosque, Farouq Majid, "noted by investigators in the 1990 assassination of Rabbi Mier Kahane," and to El Sayyid A. Nosair, who had been charged with and acquitted of the 1990 Kahane slaying.
Salameh, days after the bombing, was thus connected in the press to "a wide array of contacts and associations with terrorist organizations." By March 9, The New York Times published a photo of Salameh alongside Nosair at the time of his acquittal of the earlier assassination of Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League and a virulently anti-Arab legislator in Israel.
The authorities "pursued a dizzying array of clues and lessons on fronts raging from Jersey City, N.J., to Brooklyn and to the Mideast." A new "major suspect" was announced, Ibrahim El-Gabrowny, who was said to have ties to Salameh Nosair and was described as "a leading official of a Brooklyn mosque frequented by Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman."
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
A New Jersey storage locker was uncovered, containing "chemicals used for explosives," which the authorities "seized and detonated," a strange way to handle incriminating evidence. Two other apartments were discovered in which "‘other chemicals and electronic equipment were found … linked to Mr. Salameh and others through aliases as well as witness accounts, officials said." (Ibid.)
The authorities were seeking to depict a group of conspirators who had attempted to blow up a skyscraper in Manhattan and then left their various apartments without removing the chemicals, wire or bomb paraphernalia employed in the enterprise. Indeed, it was difficult to understand why they would leave this evidence in so many disparate places.
The explanation was instructive in its scarcely concealed racism. "‘One search is leading to another," said one ranking investigator. ‘But these are nomadic people. While it may lie in the culture, they bounce from place to place. All different people sleep there and stop there, stay a short time, then leave.’" (Ibid)
Several reporters, however, raised the obvious problem with the official scenario. "After five days of frantic activity since Mr. Salameh’s arrest, investigators admit puzzlement over two key questions: the method and the motive. Why, they have asked, "would anyone planning a car-bomb attack lease a vehicle in their own name — as the federal complaint contends Mr. Salameh to have done — even if he planned to claim later that the vehicle had been stolen from him and he had returned on three separate occasions to the rental office to demand a $400 refund?"
"And even if the van had been totally obliterated, officials reason, would not Mr. Salameh’s theft report have attracted attention, at some point leading investigators to him and his same group of associates they are now studying?"
The New York Times acknowledges that "such enigmas caused local investigators to "dismiss Mr. Salameh as perhaps a patsy for others, someone who may have been duped into carrying out the attack and taking the blame."
It soon emerged that the very people who worked at the Ryder rental office which rented the van to Salameh were FBI operatives. "The trap was set for Salameh by FBI agents disguised as employees of the rental outlet. They dickered with Salameh over the deposit, giving him $200 in a partial refund. He was then arrested at a bus stop near the agency"(Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1993).
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."
This then was the pivotal evidence leading to the implication of Salameh. In whose name was the telephone number on the rental agreement listed, and who had rented the apartment in Jersey City?
SOMEONE LONG MONITORED BY THE FBI
Both the telephone number and the apartment were listed (on the rental agreement for the Ryder Truck alleged to have contained the explosives), and indeed, the apartment had been rented by "a woman identified as Josie Hadas" (Ibid.). Her name was flaunted, almost as a signal, "the latest name on the mailbox was Josie Hadas… who moved into the apartment before Christmas" (Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1993).
It was during her occupancy of this apartment that the chemicals and bomb components were supposedly stored there. Salameh, moreover, was being "handled" by mysterious others whose relationship to the crucial evidence would become important.
"The authorities say several associates of Mr. Salameh who may have been involved in the bombing have dropped out of sight. … One of the people being sought for questioning is an unidentified man who accompanied Mr. Salameh on two visits to the rental agency. Another is Josie Hadas, whose name was listed for a telephone at an apartment at 34 Kensington Avenue in Jersey City" (New York Times, March 8, 1993). The name placed on the rental agreement as a reference was Josie Hadas.
Under the heading "Possible Tampering by Agent," New York Times reporter Joseph B. Treaster writes, "in a bizarre twist that could potentially complicate the prosecution of the bombers …[f]ederal officials were investigating a report that an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tampered with some evidence … substituting her name for that of an investigator from another agency. … John O’Brien, a spokesman for the firearms Bureau, acknowledged that one of the bureau’s agents was being questioned. … James M. Fox, the head of the FBI investigation, would not comment on the inquiry about the agent and the evidence"(Ibid.).
"Sources," however, now disclosed to the press that Salameh had been closely monitored by the FBI "long before the bombing occurred. He was … listed in the FBI’s computerized terrorism information system." Officials refused to confirm that "the suspect’s mail had been intercepted or that he had been subjected to physical surveillance, electronic intercepts or other investigative techniques."
Suddenly, the person who was supposedly brought to light because of his fortuitous request for a refund on the van which carried the bomb, emerged as someone long monitored by the FBI and other agencies. Indeed, the authorities now claimed that "the arrest came as the result of one of the largest investigations in the nation’s history."
ISRAELIS’ ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE
Who then was the woman in whose name the telephone and apartment were listed and where the incriminating evidence was "found?" Josie or Guzie Hadas was not unknown. The International Herald Tribune (March 8, 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."
The London Periodical Impact (march 12, 1993 and April 8, 1993) revealed, in an article titled "Who Bombed the World Trade Center," that on February 26, the day the bomb exploded, an Israeli intelligence group sent an urgent communiqué over a telephone access computer network about the event. The communiqué was picked up when it was discovered accidentally on a confidential government "information base" known in the Israeli intelligence community as "Matara," an official source of classified data pertaining to intelligence and security matters.
Either leaked or accessed by news sources, the communiqué states that Israeli Intelligence had advance knowledge of the timing and target of the World Trade Center bombing and that it would be attributed to "known activists from the Occupied Territories."
Three days after the bombing, "Anne," an Israeli operative of the Shin Bet, Israel’s FBI, was cited by journalists in Israel "boasting of Israeli Intelligence capabilities." She stated that Israel had advance knowledge of the bombing, confirming the communiqué disclosed on Matara.
The next day, an Israeli Defense Force spokesperson responded to a direct question from a Jerusalem reporter concerning Israeli governmental involvement in the bombing of the world Trade Center.
The Jerusalem journalist (whose name will be protected here) told Irfan Mirza, the author of the Impact articles, how he had confirmed that "Israeli intelligence knows more about the bombings than they are ever going to disclose at this time."
This author discussed the data with journalist Lorraine Mirza, who confirmed that Irfan Mirza’s investigation led to bomb threats which were taped. He has left London. On March 6, an article in the London Times confirmed that "Israeli intelligence has detailed information" about the World Trade Center bombing, adding that "the FBI has given no explanation as to why Israel has not come forward to the U.S. authorities with information."
Zafar Bangas, editor of Crescent International, an Ontario, Canada-based journal conversant in Islamic politics and one of the most widely read newspapers in the Muslim world, confirmed to this author that Guzie (Josie) Hadas was long-established as a Mossad operative. She had penetrated Islameic circles in New York, as had another intelligence operative, Emad Ali Salem, a colonel in Egyptian intelligence.
Bangas confirmed investigative work of Irfan Mirza concerning the role of Emad Ali Salem. It was he who rented the van in the name of Mohammad Salameh, purchased and disseminated chemical and bomb materials in various apartments and who tipped his employers, the FBI, as to his handiwork.
The serial number released by the ATF after, supposedly, coming upon a metal fragment, nominally buried under five stories and tons of debris, came from "undercover operative, Emad Ali Salem" (Ibid.). Salameh had attempted to report the theft of the van rented in his name previous to the bombing of the World Trade Center. Despite the public impact of the explosion, Salameh, unaware of the significance of the van, showed up asking for the return of the deposit.
ROLE OF EMAD ALI SALEM
On June 24, the FBI arrested eight Muslims alleged to have plotted a series of bombings which would have dwarfed in global impact the bombing of the World Trade Center.
According to the authorities, the detainees — all linked to Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman — had advanced plans to bomb the United Nations, the New York headquarters of the FBI, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. Some reports also mention the Statue of Liberty. Assassinations of New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato and United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali were in advanced preparation.
The pre-dawn raids, which resulted in the arrest of the plotters, followed months of surveillance. Within hours of the arrests, FBI agents seized documents and tapes from the Sheikh’s residence. Among those arrested was Mahmoud Abouhalima, now declared a suspect, as well, in the World Trade Center bombing.
The Dallas publication, Muslim World Monitor, disclosed on July 4 that Emad Ali Salem was an Egyptian intelligence officer who had entered the milieu of the followers of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman at the behest of the FBI. He was in attendance at the trial of El Sayyid Nosair, accused in the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and he offered his services as a bodyguard of the Sheikh.
Salem was "wired" throughout his association with the Muslim followers of the Sheikh. "A high-ranking former Egyptian intelligence officer, he was the informant who provided the FBI with taped conversations and all other evidence" used in the World Trade Center arrests and those of June 24. (Ibid.)
Salem worked with other informants for the FBI, including Mahmoud Zaki Zakhary, who had been reporting regularly to the FBI since January 10, 1990. Between the two, the U.S. intelligence authorities knew every residence, office and meeting which occurred between the Sheikh and his followers for a period of three and a half years.
As Muslim World Monitor explained, "Salem…had them under surveillance long before the February 26 blast took place." He was the source of "plans" to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations, other targets and the assassinations. "He has played the role, "concludes the Muslim World Monitor "of agent provocateur."
Defense lawyers for the eight accused assert that their clients were entrapped in schemes of which they were unaware and were subjected to proposals by Salem himself. "Salem was wired before, after and during every meeting. It is known that Salem was involved in the initial discussions, provided the safe houses in which bombs were allegedly manufactured, helped purchase the firearms and other materials that were to be used in the attacks." (Ibid.)
From the time of the El Sayyid Nosair trial, Salem was forever "brashly talking about violent actions and trying to incite people to do ‘crazy things.’ "These "things" were proposed after prior discussion with high-level intelligence authorities in the United States.
Under the headline "New York Trial in Rabbi’s Death Planted an Explosive Seed," the Los Angeles Times (July 4, 1993) confirms the information in the Muslim press with remarkable sangfroid. It cites the role of a "decorated former Egyptian military officer" for the emergence of "a clandestine cell of terrorists who conspired to set off the World Trade Center bomb blast, plotted an unparalleled wave of attacks on U.S. landmarks and political figures and shattered America’s image of invulnerability to terrorism."
The "trail’ left by Salem "led from those courthouse steps to the dramatic raid June 24 on a makeshift bomb factory in Queens, zigzags through militant mosques, rural shooting ranges and seedy safehouses."
It emerges that "critical evidence had been overlooked" by U.S. authorities, even though it was provided to them by "the still-mysterious cooperation of a stranger with Egyptian military medals."
Salem became close to El Sayyid Nosair before the assassination of Meir Kahane, assisting him with finding lodgings and other services. After the assassination of Kahane, Chief of Detectives Joseph Borelli "shrugged off questions about the political implications of the assault." Yet, in a police raid of Nosair’s rented house in Cliffside Park, N.J., they "discovered manuals for building bombs. They found photos of the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument and a text advocating terrorists strikes on American soil."
A senior investigator called this collection of documents "a road map" to the World Trade Center. This and attendant documents concerning bombings and assassinations "sat" in police and FBI hands, "untranslated in about 50 storage boxes."
Thus, the FBI had all the documents concerning putative plans to blow up the World Trade Center and all the documents concerning like plans for the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and other targets as early as 1990.
By late summer 1992, "federal investigators … had reports that militant Muslims were scheming to assassinate the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali." Their principal informant, Emad Ali Salem, "kept pictures of torture victims among his family albums."
Their informant had arranged "by mid-February, the massive chemical bomb that would kill six and injure more than 1000 at the Trade Center, brewed in barrels hidden in the Jersey City storage unit." All these arrangements were reported by a wired Salem.
"Meanwhile, stored in boxes in an FBI locker, … were the documents that would help unravel a plot to blow up the United Nations, the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument."
This extraordinary admission that the FBI had advance plans and the full documentation of where to find everyone and everything was blithely reported. Only after the detonation of the bomb in the World Trade Center did "the FBI finally open the boxes." They had been receiving regular reports from "the man they called ‘the Colonel,’ [who] wore a hidden microphone as he moved the inner circle. … There … federal agents heard first-hand as another plot evolved," one promulgated by their own operative and the rationale for the arrests of June 24.
All the while that the U.S. has sounded the alarm about "Muslim Fundamentalist terror," it has funded the Islamic Fundamentalist group in Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has received to date $3.3 billion in official U.S. aid administered by the CIA. Many of the figures in the Muslim movement in the U.S., including those accused of involvement in the World Trade Center bombing, were among those who organized the sending of CIA arms and funds to Hekmatyar. (See "Late For Work," Prevailing Winds #1.)
The U.S. rulers are terrorizing the American people with operations of their own authorship, deployed as a rationale for "maintaining vast military budgets for devastating assaults upon Iraq, Somalia and targets now on the Pentagon drawing board.
©Ralph Schoenman 1993
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