9/11 Commission Nixed al-Qaida
Link to Flight 800?
The 9/11 Commission rejected
evidence that al-Qaida may have played a role in the 1996
downing of TWA Flight 800, investigative reporter Peter Lance
What's more, says Lance, the evidence of an al-Qaida link was
first presented to 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick when she
was deputy attorney general under President Clinton.
On Thursday, Lance
shared details of his new book, "Cover-up: What the
Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror," with
ABC Radio Network's John Batchelor.
Documents uncovered by the former
network news reporter show that weeks before TWA Flight 800
exploded off the coast of Long Island, Ramzi Yousef –
mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bomb plot and the
author of the blueprint for the 9/11 attacks – warned the
FBI he was preparing to blow up a U.S. airliner.
"They had an informant in a
federal prison cell in lower Manhattan who'd been passing
notes to the FBI from Ramzi Yousef," Lance told
While in jail Yousef was befriended by
fellow inmate Greg Scarpa Jr., who was awaiting trial on a
racketeering charge and who occupied the cell between the al-Qaida
bomber and his partner, Abdul Hakim Murad.
Scarpa, who saw a chance to reduce his
sentence by sharing what he found out with counterterrorism
probers, agreed to act as a conduit for messages passed
between Yousef and Murad.
The mobster began secretly cooperating
with the FBI, which went so far as to allow Yousef to make
phone calls to the Middle East so they could monitor them.
Lance told Batchelor, "At least
one call went to his uncle, Khalid Sheik Mohammed," who
masterminded the 9/11 plot based on Yousef's blueprint.
By the spring of 1996, Yousef's notes
to Murad became ominous – featuring detailed schematics of
the bombs to be used and how they could be smuggled past
On May 19, 1996, Yousef told Scarpa
that he advised his people to start the bombing of airplanes.
According to a translated summary of
his note to Murad that same day:
"Yousef gave a very detailed
paper on how to smuggle explosives into an airplane. He
referenced RDX explosives and 747 airliners. He gave detailed
information on the weights of explosives and flying heights of
airplanes and the types of explosives to be used as well as
where they should be placed in the airplane."
Two months later almost to the day,
TWA 800 – a Boeing 747 – exploded in midair, killing all
230 passengers and crew aboard.
The Justice Department's decision to
keep Yousef's warnings to Scarpa under wraps during the Flight
800 investigation was political, said Lance – a bid to cover
up tracks that should have been followed but weren't.
Likewise the 9/11 Commission, where
ex-Justice official Jamie Gorelick played a role in
determining which evidence was relevant to their probe – and
which was not.