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Scoop Links: "Planes As Missiles" Warnings

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following useful set of precis and links (from the’s UNDERNEWS email column) highlights publications - current and historic - which shed useful light on questions raised by recent revelations that the White House was warned in August last year about Al Qaeda hijacking plans. The focus of much of the discussion in the US media is on the plausibility of the claims that the CIA and White House was not aware of the idea of using aeroplanes as missiles. In fact, specific warnings of such tactics appear to have been fairly widespread.


||| MARIA RESSA CNN - The FBI was warned six years ago of a terrorist plot to hijack commercial planes and slam them into the Pentagon, the CIA headquarters and other buildings, Philippine investigators told CNN. Philippine authorities learned of the plot after a small fire in a Manila apartment, which turned out to be the hideout of Ramzi Yousef, who was later convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Yousef escaped at the time, but agents caught his right-hand man, Abdul Hakim Murad, who told them a chilling tale. "Murad narrated to us about a plan by the Ramzi cell in the continental U.S. to hijack a commercial plane and ram it into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and also the Pentagon," said Rodolfo Mendoza, a Philippine intelligence investigator. Philippine investigators also found evidence targeting commercial towers in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. They said they passed that information on to the FBI in 1995, but it's not clear what was done with it.

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. . . FBI Director Robert Mueller insisted the agency had "no warning signs" of last week's attacks. Yousef and Murad both have ties to Osama bin Laden, the man President Bush has labeled the "prime suspect" in Tuesday's attacks. Authorities also found on a computer in the Manila apartment details of a separate plot to bomb 11 U.S. airliners on overseas flights.

||| JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - If the president got an intelligence warning during the summer about what might soon happen, how come he didn't do something then? He could have:

1. Told Congress.

2. Improved airport security, which had already been criticized as inadequate.

3. Alerted the airlines. As it was, the airlines never raised any questions when the hijackers started laying down thousands in cash for one-way tickets.

4. Warned the FAA. The FAA control center in New Hampshire knew 10 to 15 minutes after takeoff that an American Airlines flight from Boston had been hijacked. It was more than half an hour later when it crashed into the World Trade Center.

5. Ordered improved security for the nation's nuclear power plants, the untended thousands of miles of natural gas pipelines, the harbors into which a terrorist could sail a liquid natural gas tanker and unleash a holocaust equal to a nuclear explosion.

If Bush knew so much, how come he did so little on September 11? Instead of letting his handlers move him from place to place in an utter fog, he could have returned to Washington immediately and, as commander in chief, taken charge. He could have alerted the military, which ought to have had planes in the air moments after the FAA control learned of the takeover.


||| SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, September 12, 2001 - For Mayor Willie Brown, the first signs that something was amiss came late Monday when he got a call from what he described as his airport security - - a full eight hours before yesterday's string of terrorist attacks -- advising him that Americans should be cautious about their air travel. The mayor, who was booked to fly to New York yesterday morning from San Francisco International Airport, said the call "didn't come in any alarming fashion, which is why I'm hesitant to make an alarming statement." In fact, at the time, he didn't pay it much mind. "It was not an abnormal call. I'm always concerned if my flight is going to be on time, and they always alert me when I ought to be careful." Exactly where the call came from is a bit of a mystery. The mayor would say only that it came from "my security people at the airport." Mike McCarron, assistant deputy director at SFO, said the Federal Aviation Administration "routinely" issues security notices about possible threats. He said two or three such notices have been received in the past couple of months, but none in recent days.

||| MILITARY DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2000 - The fire and smoke from the downed passenger aircraft billows from the Pentagon courtyard. Defense Protective Services Police seal the crash sight. Army medics, nurses and doctors scramble to organize aid. An Arlington Fire Department chief dispatches his equipment to the affected areas. Don Abbott, of Command Emergency Response Training, walks over to the Pentagon and extinguishes the flames. The Pentagon was a model and the "plane crash" was a simulated one. The Pentagon Mass Casualty Exercise, as the crash was called, was just one of several scenarios that emergency response teams were exposed to Oct. 24-26 in the Office of the Secretaries of Defense conference room. On Oct. 24, there was a mock terrorist incident at the Pentagon Metro stop and a construction accident to name just some of the scenarios that were practiced to better prepare local agencies for real incidents. . . Photo caption: A plane crash is simulated inside the cardboard courtyard of a surprisingly realistic-looking model Pentagon. This "tabletop" exercise was designed to help emergency relief personnel better prepare for disasters when they occur.

||| JOHN PHILLIPS, LONDON TIMES, JULY 11, 2002 - The leaders of the world's most powerful countries will be protected against possible terrorist attacks during the G8 summit in Genoa later this month by a battery of ground-to-air missiles. In an unprecedented move by the hosts of an international meeting, the Italian Defense Ministry has taken the precaution after a tip by "a friendly foreign intelligence service" that Islamic suicide bombers might try to attack the summit in a small aircraft or helicopter."

||| KEN MCCARTHY, BRASS CHECK - Aircraft being used as bombs in suicide missions or otherwise goes back at least as far as World War II. There's nothing new about it. The Japanese suicide squadrons are the best known and flew hundreds of missions, but the US got into the act as well. In fact, Joseph Kennedy Jr., JFK's older brother, died testing a system that was designed to guide an unmanned plane loaded with explosives into targets over 50 years ago. More recently, in 1993 an Israeli-born terrorism analyst who advised the Republican Congress on terrorist matters, Yossef Bodansky, wrote a mass market non-fiction paperback, "Target America" that detailed how specific Middle Eastern countries were training suicide pilots for attacks against the west. . . Bodansky is anything but a fringe figure, however his insights into jetliners as suicide weapons were completely shut out of the US news media post 9/11 even though he had a new book on bookstore shelves about Osama bin Laden. . . Let's get the official story straight:

1. The government was so concerned about violence against commercial aircraft in the US that attorney general John Ashcroft was told to stop flying on commercial planes in the summer of 2001. - Reported in the UK. Not here.

2. Bush went to Genoa in July of 2001 where the threat of a suicide plane attack was so high that the Italians put anti-aircraft batteries at the airport. - Amazing media amnesia on this one. . .

3. The week of 9/11, the FAA sent an alert to all US airports warning of an impending hijacking of a US plane. Mob bagman and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown was warned off planes that week. Check it out in the San Francisco Chronicle. . .

4. Then on 9/11 when four commercial jetliners simultaneously left their flight paths and stopped communicating with air traffic control. The FAA - which has just issued a hijack alert - and its military partner, NORAD, with which it is fully functionally integrated, couldn't figure out what to do and did nothing even though standard operating procedures of what do to in the event of air hijackings are in place and have been for years. . .

||| JOHN SOLOMON ASSOCIATED PRESS - Exactly two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal report warned the executive branch that Osama bin Laden's terrorists might hijack an airliner and dive bomb it into the Pentagon or other government building. "Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," the September 1999 report said. . . The report noted that an al-Qaida-linked terrorist first arrested in the Philippines in 1995 and later convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing had suggested such a suicide jetliner mission. "Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters," author Rex Hudson wrote in a report prepared for the National Intelligence Council and shared with other federal agencies.


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