sitemap From Here To Eternity

From Here To Eternity

Suicide Bombers and TWA 800

All have not the gift of martyrdom

John Dryden   1631 - 1700


Knowing that he would be convicted and sent to prison for life with no future opportunity to state his case in public, Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar, against the advice of his attorney, took the stand at his trial in Brooklyn to state that he had planned to kill as many Jews as possible in a suicide bomb attack, though he insisted not on the subway.  He also confessed to knowledge about the downing of TWA 800 which was received with "skepticism" since Federal officials had not found a "criminal" act associated with this disaster.

July 21, 1998     New York Times
One of two Palestinians charged with plotting to explode a powerful pipe bomb in the New York City subway testified Monday that he had planned to kill as many Jews as possible in a suicide bomb attack, though he insisted not on the subway. The defendant, Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar, also told the jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn that before he came to New York, "I failed to assassinate President Clinton in Seattle, Washington."  Abu Maizar was not asked to elaborate on this claim and said nothing more about it. Later, both prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case said this was the first time they had ever heard such a claim. And some investigators privately expressed skepticism about the claim, pointing out that a note found with a pipe bomb in Abu Maizar's Brooklyn apartment when the police raided it last July claimed responsibility for the 1996 crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, which Federal officials have said was not the result of a criminal act.

Even the defendant's own lawyers would not accept their client's assertions ....

July 21, 1998     New York Times
Abu Maizar's testimony Monday was also at odds with the contentions of his own lawyers, who have argued that he had not intended to explode the pipe bomb but rather had planned to use it as a prop in a scheme to collect reward money from a government anti-terrorism program. .... During his testimony Monday, a prosecutor, Bernadette Miragliotta, asked him: "You wanted to make sure that you took as many Jews as possible with you?" "As many as I could take," the 24-year-old Abu Maizar declared in the dramatic testimony, in which he also asserted to the jury that he had "come to the United States because I feel that the United States is supporting the Jewish state and the United States should be punished for supporting Israel." Abu Maizar denied that he had planned to explode the bomb in the subway, but, under questioning, did not say where he intended to explode it. ...... Ms. Miragliotta, an assistant United States attorney in Brooklyn, noted in cross-examining Abu Maizar that an F.B.I. agent had testified that after his arrest, the defendant told him he had "wanted to bomb the B train because there are a lot of Jews on the B train," which serves the predominantly Jewish Borough Park area of Brooklyn. "That's not true," Abu Maizar replied as he repeatedly denied that the subway was the target of his bombing plan.

Well if it was not true, what was he intending to do?  A clue may found in events which occurred in Jerusalem just prior to his arrest.

July 30, 1997
Double-suicide bombing on at the main Jewish market in Jerusalem claimed the lives of 17 people including the two bombers.

July 31, 1997    Reuters
Israeli and Palestinian security forces today arrested alleged Muslim militants in ..raids following twin suicide attacks that killed 13 people in a market in .. Jerusalem a day earlier.

July 31, 1997   Reuters and CNN
Police found explosive devices in a raid on a New York apartment and arrested three men .. "The individuals involved are Middle Eastern ..." the mayor told reporters at the site of the discovery in ... Brooklyn. The raid resulted from a tip late Wednesday night from a man who said his "roommates want to follow up on Jerusalem," an apparent reference to the Jerusalem attack.

Was Maizar hinting that he intended to commit suicide by blowing up a bus in NY City?   He seems to have followed an organization that involved itself in such acts....

July 21, 1998     New York Times
Abu Maizar .... said he was a supporter, though not a member, of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that has claimed responsibility for the majority of suicide bombings in Israel in recent years. "I always dreamed to be a martyr," he declared.

The government might not be to happy with such a public statement but then it cannot control what a man says in his own 'defense' during his trial. It may have preferred that he go off to jail quietly ....

July 21, 1998     New York Times
Later, outside the courtroom, Padden said that Abu Maizar's declaration on the witness stand that he had planned a suicide bombing would not change the defense argument -- thus creating the unusual situation of lawyers disavowing their client's testimony. "In spite of what he said," Padden told reporters, "our theory is, and our argument will be, that there is no evidence he intended to use the bomb."

In yet another flip-flop, which the major media appear not to notice, the government's present line is that Maizar was not connected to any group and that he was just a person who liked to throw stones .......

July 24, 1998   New York Times
A Palestinian immigrant who testified that he had wanted to kill as many Jews as possible in a suicide attack was convicted Thursday of plotting to explode a powerful pipe bomb in the New York City subway. But in a case that raised the specter of another terrorist attack in a city where the World Trade Center was bombed five years ago, the jury in federal district court in Brooklyn acquitted a second defendant of charges that he had been part of the conspiracy, instead finding him guilty only of an immigration-related fraud charge. .... After the jury pronounced Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Maizar guilty of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, he exclaimed at the defense table: "Palestinian children do not deserve to die! Nobody in the world deserves to die!" .... Abu Maizar now faces a sentence of life in prison. The immigration charge Khalil was convicted of is normally punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but prosecution and defense lawyers said it could bring a sentence of up to 25 years in this case if the judge finds that Khalil used it to further a terrorist plot, a judicial finding that is possible despite the jury's acquittal of Khalil on charges in the bomb plot. Investigators in the United States have said they had found no evidence linking the defendants to any known terrorist group. And the Israeli government has said that the men -- who came to the United States separately and met several months before they were arrested -- were not known to have ties to militant groups, although Abu Maizar was arrested as a teen-ager in 1990 for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during Palestinian protests.

But shortly after Maizar's arrest we learned that the FBI had already found a link to Hamas and knew how the operation was funded ....

August 4, 1997
The FBI has linked two suspects in a Brooklyn suicide-bombing plot to the militant Mideast group Hamas. Palestinian security officials think the two suspects could be members of a new group, financed by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, which takes its orders from Hamas or another Islamist group.

And at the time Maizar was about to carry out his attack a familiar figure, also linked to bin Laden, was about to go on trial ...

August 4, 1997
Ramzi Yousef
, the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing ... will go on trial today ....prosecutors hope to finger Yousef as the mastermind of the WTC blast; another key concern is to uncover who financed him.

Uncovering who financed him is not that difficult.   If one asks who owned the house he was staying in when he was arrested it might make you suspicious ....

July 17, 1997      The New York Times
A Federal grand jury in Manhattan is investigating whether a renegade Saudi millionaire .... has been funneling money to terrorist groups in the United States.......Mr. bin Laden ... is believed to be living in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. An official ... said that the money had been delivered to groups in Detroit, Jersey City and Brooklyn ....He was ... linked to Ramzi Ahmed Yousef the three years before the attack on the Trade Center, Mr. Yousef lived in Pakistan in a house paid for by Mr. bin Laden, the State Department report said. .......Federal investigators have information that shows Islamic fundamentalist groups, consisting mostly of legal noncitizen immigrants from the Middle East, have received money from Mr. bin Laden. "the level of terrorist activity within the United States is really very low, ..... groups typically do not want to trigger the type of response that an attack in America would bring ..... Osama ... may not have the same constraint."

Looking at some history of suicide bombings we find Hamas involved in a interesting double bombing ....

October 19, 1994 Hamas militant explodes bomb on bus in Tel Aviv bus, killing 23 passengers.
January 22, 1995 Two Islamic Jihad militants blow themselves up amid group of Israeli troops killing 21 soldiers.
April 9, 1995  Islamic Jihad suicide bomber attacks military convoy in Gaza Strip, killing seven soldiers and a US tourist.
July 24, 1995 Unidentified suicide bomber explodes bomb aboard bus near Tel Aviv, killing six passengers.
February, 25, 1996 Double suicide bombing in Jerusalem and Ashkelon, claimed by Hamas, kills 26 people.
March 3, 1996 Suicide bombing on Jerusalem bus kills 19 people.
March 21, 1997 Suicide bombing Tel Aviv kills three Israeli women and wounds 46 people.
July 30 1997 Suicide bombing in Jerusalem market kills 15 Israelis and two bombers.

Two of the above bombings in Jerusalem were on the same bus route number. On the program 'Sixty Minutes' broadcast on October 5, 1997, a Hamas prisoner serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison said that the same bus number was chosen deliberately to show that Hamas could strike at will anywhere and at any time.  Which leads one to note the similarity between the TWA 800 downing which occurred on July 17, 1996 and a similar incident which occurred in the same vicinity four months later ......

November 16, 1996 22:00 (EST)
Pakistan International Airlines Flight 712 Leaving Kennedy at 9:25pm, bound for Frankfurt. The pilot, W. Shah, said his co-pilot saw an orange light coming from the left hand side to the right hand side of the airplane. The object was 3 - 4 miles in front of the aircraft and above it. Shah was told by Boston controllers that there were no military exercises in the area. Boston apparently confirmed two unidentified blips' on radar. The tapes have been turned over to the FBI and NTSB. The object(s) rose directly out of Long Island Sound and ascended almost vertically. The Pakistani crew just saw a flash, and apparently a TWA crew, which was behind the Pakistani, saw the whole thing. The TWA crew was so alarmed by what they had just seen that they considered returning to JFK. Later, they requested clearance to skirt the area where the light had been seen. Radio 5 in the U.K. reported that the object which crossed the Pakistani aircraft had exploded. On a subsequent McNeill - Lehrer newshour when asked about the direction of the object Mr. Kallstrom replied, "ascending".

November 17, 1996     WCBS-TV
WCBS-TV reports that last night Pakistani International Airlines flight 712 radioed Logan International (Boston) that a missile had just flown by their plane (the story implied 'just missing them') ...Boston confirmed 'two unidentified blips' on radar at the same time as the PIA report.

November 17, 1996    Associated Press
FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette said Sunday, "At this point we don't know what, if anything, was seen." Shah (pilot of PIA 712) said they were told by Boston air traffic controllers that there were no military exercises in the area. He also said the pilots were interviewed by officials with the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt... A TWA plane flying immediately behind the Pakistanis jet Saturday made a similar sighting and asked to turn around .... The TWA plane was rerouted and the air corridor used by the Pakistan Airlines flight was closed. (For a transcript and an audio file of this incident see A Tale of Two Tapes)

Joseph sees no evil and later we will find him feeling "comfortable" but in the meantime let us ask: Who is this group that would try to pull off the downing of a second TWA plane? .....

November 1, 1995    Electronic Telegraph World News
A British-educated economics lecturer, Ramadan Shallah, yesterday made his first appearance as the new leader of the militant Islamic Jihad movement, whose founder, Fathi Shiqaqi, was assassinated in Malta last week. Mr Shallah, 38, was at Damascus airport with other leaders of the rejectionist Palestinian world to receive Mr Shiqaqi's coffin. (Shallah's) office in Damascus and the group's members in the Gaza Strip refuse to confirm basic details of his background..... From the differing accounts of his life, it seems that Mr Shallah was born in 1957 in Gaza City's Shajaiya neighbourhood. Believed to have headed Islamic Jihad's fund-raising operations in Britain he had been a student with Mr Shiqaqi at Zaqazik university in Egypt, where they joined Egyptian radicals in forming the Egyptian wing of Islamic Jihad, which assassinated President Sadat in 1980 after he made peace with Israel. .... The Palestinian wing of Islamic Jihad became known in the 1980s for its attacks on Israeli targets and was among the early proponents of suicide bombings .....He taught economics in Gaza and left in the mid-1980s, apparently taking up studies in Egypt and America. He went to Britain in 1986 and received his doctorate in economics at Durham University in 1991. He is believed to have headed Islamic Jihad's fund-raising operations in Britain. He is also thought to have been involved in militant Islamic activities in Florida. ..... Palestinian police have already jailed Mr Shallah's brother, Omar, for 25 years for inciting Palestinians to commit suicide attacks against Israelis.

The source of the funding is no secret ....

March 11, 1996 The Electronic Telegraph
Iran's support for Hamas .... involves training terrorists and providing substantial financial backing. According to Western intelligence agencies, large numbers of Hamas supporters have gone to Iran for special terrorist training. Hamas receives substantial financial support from the Department of Islamic Liberation Movements, which is run from Teheran by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The instructors are veterans of Hizbollah, the Lebanese Islamic fundamentalist movement that pioneered suicide bombings in the mid-1980s with its attacks on the American embassy and marine barracks in Beirut. In addition, Hamas receives substantial financial support from the Department of Islamic Liberation Movements, which is run from Teheran by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, who is opposed to President Rafsanjani's policy of trying to reach an accommodation with the West. The fund pays millions of dollars each year to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups charged with implementing Ayatollah Khomeini's legacy of exporting the Iranian revolution through the Muslim world ..... In addition, Iran directly funds and controls Islamic Jihad, an offshoot of Hamas which is headed by Ramadan Shallah, an economics graduate from Durham University. Although Islamic Jihad consists of only 200 to 300 terrorists, unlike Hamas it rejects any notion of seeking a political dialogue with either Arafat's Palestinian Authority or the Israelis. The arrangement between Teheran and Islamic Jihad is simple. Teheran provides the funds in return for Islamic Jihad carrying out successful terrorist attacks against Israel.   Hence, only four days after the Iranians met with Mr Shallah in Damascus, an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber killed himself and a group of innocent Israelis at a shopping centre in Tel Aviv last Monday. For this Mr Shallah can expect to be handsomely rewarded by Teheran.

One of the best allies of the United States is very tolerant of fund-raising activities ....

March 11, 1996    The Electronic Telegraph World News
Britain is now the undisputed overseas fund-raising and educational headquarters for Hamas, Israeli authorities claimed last week. Apart from raising millions of pounds to support terrorist operations and publishing anti-Zionist propaganda, the Israelis say Hamas supporters in London are also helping to orchestrate terrorist attacks. Documents supporting the charges have been passed to British intelligence by Jerusalem. The best example was provided by an American activist jailed in Israel for supplying arms to Hamas. In his confession to the Israeli security forces he said he was sent from Chicago to London to receive his orders from a Hamas commander called Abu Obeida. According to Israeli intelligence, Abu Obeida has masterminded a series of terrorist attacks, including the abduction and murder of Israeli soldiers and bomb attacks against civilians. ...... Another example, cited by the Israelis, of how Britain is used as a safe haven by Hamas terrorists concerns the case of Ramadan Shallah, the recently appointed head of Islamic Jihad, the Iranian-financed offshoot of Hamas which carried out last Monday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv in which 11 Israelis, most of them children, died. Israeli intelligence officials claim that up to 50 per cent of Hamas's funding comes from Britain ...... Today Israeli officials are deeply concerned about the activities of Filisteen al-Muslima (Islamic Palestine), Hamas's official monthly magazine which is published in London, and the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, also known as Interpal. Israeli intelligence officials claim that up to 50 per cent of Hamas's funding comes from Britain. ....... Mr Howard is currently trying to expel a leading Saudi dissident who is attempting to mastermind the overthrow of Saudi Arabia's ruling family from his London headquarters. Israeli officials now believe that the British Government will suffer similar embarrassment over the activities of Hamas. MI5 confirmed last week that they were investigating alleged links between Hamas and Interpal.

Another link in the funding chain is of great interest to the CIA and the circle returns again to Abu Maizar....

August 2, 1997    Electronic Telegraph Issue 799
A leading associate of a sworn enemy of the West is now in custody in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he is providing information about his former boss's Islamic fundamentalist activities. Details have been passed to MI6 and to the CIA at Langley, Virginia. United States intelligence sources yesterday named the informant as Abu Fadel, the terrorist alias for Sidi Tayyib. He handled the distribution of Osama bin Laden's vast wealth as the "godfather" of anti-American terror groups. Just how he ended up in Riyadh is uncertain. US officials, who have found the Saudis difficult to deal with in the matter of terrorism, will not say if he was captured or was working as a double agent for the desert kingdom. All they will disclose is that he has been in Saudi hands since the middle of May. There is also a report that a second aide to bin Laden, said to go by the name of Jallud, is helping the Saudis after being arrested. Exiled from Saudi Arabia, bin Laden, 44, who has an inherited fortune estimated at £154 million, is zealously committed to striking at American interests. He is a towering figure in Islamic circles, where he gained heroic status in the Eighties, fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Reporters who have interviewed him say he is a tall and elegant figure in a gold-trimmed white robe and red-and-white keffiyeh. He lives with his three wives at Hadda in Afghanistan, beyond the reach of the West and under the protection of the Taliban, who captured Kabul almost a year ago. He is especially feared because of his ability to fund many diverse operations. Britain has a special interest in him because he has been linked to the transfer of funds two years ago to a London-based Algerian group suspected of seven bombings in France. He has also been connected to the London-based Saudi opposition group, the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights. Egypt wants to question him for allegedly funding a plot to assassinate President Mubarak in December 1995. Cairo believes that in association with the blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, he was behind some of the murders of Western tourists in Egypt. America believes that bin Laden was the patron of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the 28 year-old Pakistani on trial in Manhattan for allegedly masterminding the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing for which the sheikh is serving a prison term.   A State Department report labels him as "one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today". It is thought to be no coincidence that two alleged suicide bombers, Abu Mezer, 23, and Lafi Khalil, 22, carrying Jordanian passports, were captured two days ago making pipe bombs in a flat in Brooklyn, New York. They were apparently plotting to blow up a subway train. American sources say the information being given in Riyadh by Tayyib relates to the distribution of money to Arab communities in Brooklyn, Jersey City in New Jersey, and Detroit. Tayyib has apparently given details of bin Laden's bank accounts in Pakistan and Afghanistan from which money has been sent to London and Detroit for passing on to individuals. His information is thought to have been the reason a federal grand jury has been secretly convened in New York to examine the financing of terrorism in America. The CIA believes that bin Laden had advance knowledge of two Saudi bombings that killed 24 US servicemen. He is thought to have provided the money, with Iran supplying the muscle through Hizbollah.

Despite which Mr. Valiquette remains "comfortable" ......

July 12, 1998,    NY Times
No Flight 800 Connection - Abu Maizar and Khalil, 23, were arrested last July when the police raided an apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and found what they described as a pipe bomb "fully rigged and ready to be detonated," along with a rambling note that threatened attacks against Jewish and American interests if various demands were not met. The demands included the release of imprisoned Islamic militants including Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was convicted of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. .. The note -- not only warned that Islamic militants were "ready to hit everywhere" with suicide bombs, but also claimed responsibility for the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 in July 1996, in which 230 people died. Whether Abu Maizar and Khalil are guilty of plotting a subway calamity will be decided by the jury at their trial, but the note's claim of responsibility for the Flight 800 catastrophe will not require a trial, an FBI spokesman indicated. The claim was one of the "thousands of leads" the bureau pursued in its investigation of the TWA crash, the spokesman, Joseph Valiquette, said on Friday. "We are comfortable with our announcement last November that we have found no evidence that a criminal act was responsible for the plane going down," he said.

 Looking at the Islamic calendar, Mr. Valiquette, does it give you 'comfort' that a funny thing happened on the way to the subway?

July 31, 1997   Reuters                    
FEDEX Aircraft Crashes on 26 Raby` al-awal 1418 A.H. (July 31, 1997)
Five crewmembers . escaped ..when their Federal Express MD-11 cargo plane crash-landed,... at Newark .. overturned and burst into flames. CBS radio quoted a witness as saying he had seen flames from the plane before it crashed.

August 11, 1997     Aviation Week and Space Technology
Safety investigators are scrutinizing pilots' reactions and retrieving data from a Federal Express MD-11F to better understand why the aircraft crashed ..... Investigators have questioned the two pilots but have not released information on their interviews.

Funny because it occurred on the anniversary of an event that Hamas considers as "the ultimate submission to Zionism"........

September 13, 1993                    26 Raby` al-awal 1414 A.H.    
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES ON INTERIM SELF-GOVERNMENT ARRANGEMENTS - The Oslo Accords of 1993 heralded a new era of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians through their representative - the PLO - after decades of war and conflict. Following the initial agreement, known today as "Oslo A", Israel withdrew its security forces from the city of Jericho and its environs and from most of the Gaza strip, thereby transferring civil administration and security responsibility to the newly established Palestinian Authority. "Oslo A" was denounced by some in Israel as the beginning of the end of the Jewish state; at the same time the Palestinian opposition to Arafat, and especially the terrorist organization Hamas, called it "the ultimate submission to Zionism".

Cold comfort, Mr Valiquette!