Part 7 of Truth, Lies, and The Legend of 9/11: Truth Lies Legend
With the foregoing background in mind, we are now in a position to chronicle and analyze the final crystallization of the 9/11 Legend. On February 12, 2002, Omar Saeed Sheikh was "officially" arrested by the Pakistani police for the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl after unofficially being held in ISI custody for a week. With Omar Saeed now back as a world headliner, his updated terror resume was also making the rounds: jailed for a 1994 kidnapping, bartered out for a 1999 hijacking, headed up an ISI-linked terror group (the Jaish-e-Mohammed) responsible for a number of high-profile attacks on Indian interests in recent months, and - almost as an afterthought - sending $100,000 along to Mohamed Atta before September 11.
Not that the newspapers were really pushing a 9/11 connection with the Pearl kidnapping. In fact, of those few news sources that offhandedly did mention that Saeed had been a 9/11 paymaster - for example, TIME and the Associated Press in February - there was no mention at all of an incriminating connection with the Pakistani ISI Chief. Meanwhile, other journalists would mention Omar Saeed's links to al-Qaida or the ISI, yet neglect to connect him in any manner to 9/11. A particularly egregious example of this omission concerned Maria Ressa of CNN, who, only months before, had definitively identified Omar Saeed as the 9/11 paymaster acting under the alias "Mustafa Ahmad." Yet by the time of her July 7, 2002 article on Saeed, she was curiously silent on the question of Saeed's alleged paymaster role with al-Qaida, reporting instead that "Al Qaeda funded the [1999 Indian Airlines] hijacking operation" which resulted in Omar Saeed's release from prison. For good measure, her July 7 piece also mentioned the fact that bin Laden was active in supporting terror groups in Kashmir (a cause which bin Laden had, in fact, only formally adopted on October 14, 2001 - that is, a mere five days after the incriminating October 9 Times of India article). In view of the fact that Omar Saeed now was widely being marketed as an ISI-connected terrorist leader active in Kashmir, he would find an alternative bin Laden link (and cover story), courtesy of Maria Ressa and colleagues.
As for the Times of India, only one day after Saeed's "official" arrest, they were now explicitly backtracking on their October 9 revelation linking Omar Saeed to the ISI Chief. Instead, they were going full-on with the Saeed/Ansari route to the money trail.
And what of that money trail? Was it a dead issue by the time of Saeed's arrest for the Pearl kidnapping? Not exactly. In fact, the mainstream media seemed to adopt - or was passively used to employ - an extremely subtle technique to obfuscate the whole issue. Here is how it worked in the aftermath of Omar Saeed's arrest: where an article now mentioned Saeed's link to the $100,000 transaction, the usual detail provided was the fact that such money was sent through "hawala channels", a phrase that would point more curious researchers to the Saeed/Ansari thread that had briefly made headlines with the January 22 Calcutta attack. Those articles, however, would tellingly omit the "Mustafa Ahmad" alias from the details.
At around this time, articles that briefly touched upon a paymaster by the name of "Mustafa Ahmad" would reveal nothing about the man, except for the fact that he was still "at large." Prior to the January 22 Calcutta attack, there was another thread of articles which pushed the "Mustafa Ahmad = Shaikh Saiid = Sa'd al-Sharif" angle, culminating in the December 18, 2001 Associated Press article which had identified the 9/11 paymaster as bin Laden's Saudi brother-in-law and financial chief. In light of the recent arrest of the now "official" 9/11 paymaster, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, it is possible to perceive another thread of articles - a thread that arose full-blown, in fact, from the Zacarias Moussaoui indictment, which was unsealed December 11, 2001.
As will become clear, the Zacarias Moussaoui indictment was a crucial pivot point in the unfolding 9/11 Legend, locking down the money trail story with a firm delineation of details. When Moussaoui first made the news, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he was touted as the possible "twentieth hijacker" who just wasn't able to get up to bat. In fact, by September 11, Moussaoui was already in detention, on suspicion of being connected to al-Qaida. As the story goes, suspicions were aroused when Moussaoui had made inquiries at a flight school. Known to French intelligence as a suspicious character, Moussaoui was promptly investigated by the FBI office out of Minnesota. He was then arrested and detained in August 2001. As the 9/11 Legend has it, by the time of the September 11 attacks, the Minnesota office was still scrambling for a warrant to check Moussaoui's hard drive for incriminating material. The implied moral of the Moussaoui Tale was this - if not for the undue concern over civil rights and due process, the FBI might have been able to ferret out Moussaoui's true role, and thus avert the 9/11 tragedy. The Moussaoui Tale also had the added bonus of seeming to be an incriminating aspect of the 9/11 Legend, thereby garnering it a dollop of credibility even as it mostly functioned to shore up the evidence pointing to al-Qaida complicity for 9/11. In the same manner through which Brisard had offered up his own "mainstream" criticisms, the Moussaoui Tale was just another example of a red herring news item offered up as an "incriminating" detail, keeping the guilt balanced squarely on the toga-clad shoulders of bin Laden.
The unsealed December 2001 Moussaoui indictment also set out two "unindicted co-conspirators" who had yet to play their final roles in the unfolding 9/11 Legend - Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa Ahmed al-hawsawi (the "official" paymaster). Binalshibh was hijacker Mohammed Atta's roommate in Hamburg, and the senior operative directly linking Atta to al-Qaida. According to the Moussaoui indictment, Binalshibh was also a "paymaster," allegedly transferring funds to Moussaoui. As we will see, the Moussaoui indictment had lain the groundwork for the eventual Khalid Shaikh Mohammed/ Ramzi Binalshibh/ Mustafa Ahmed nexus that really gets rolling in June 2002, when Khalid is first introduced as the 9/11 "mastermind", then proceeds through Binalshibh's choreographed arrest in September 2002, and culminates with the simultaneous arrest of Khalid and Mustafa Ahmed in March 2003. Further, we will see how FBI Director Mueller uses the details in the Moussaoui indictment to explicitly pair up Khalid and Mustafa Ahmed - a full nine months before these characters end up sharing news space for their own simultaneously choreographed apprehensions.
If, up until the March 2003 arrest of the "official" 9/11 paymaster, the mainstream news media seemed to be going with obscure, conflicting versions of the paymaster role, the Moussaoui indictment exhibited no such confusion. Where "federal", "intelligence", or "law enforcement" officials were variously reported as identifying the paymaster as either Omar Saeed or bin Laden's brother-in-law (among others), the Moussaoui indictment way back in December 2001 - though well after the controversial Oct. 9 Times of India - gave the impression that the paymaster role was a settled fact. And the "settled fact" was: the man providing and receiving back funds under the alias of "Mustafa Ahmad" was actually a flesh and blood 33-year old Saudi named Mustafa Ahmed Alhawsawi (or al-Hisawi, depending on the news source).
And sure enough, a bit too far below the radar to really attract notice, there existed a thread of articles that referenced the Money Trail Story by means of a paymaster named Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi. In this particular thread of articles, where Hisawi was spelled out as Hawsawi, there was absolutely no doubt as to the mind-numbing details of the 9/11 money transactions - perhaps because they were lifted bodily from the Moussaoui indictments which, in retrospect, may now be considered as the first book of Scripture in the 9/11 Legend. As early as three months after the fall of the Twin Towers, it was all known - the full details, the money trail, the essential players, and their roles - and the eventual arrests of Khalid, Binalshibh, and Mustafa Ahmed would merely serve to cast an official imprimatur on the unsealed word of the Book of Moussaoui.
Perhaps the obvious extended public obfuscation over the paymaster role - long after it was definitively revealed in the Moussaoui indictment - was intended until such time as the fates of Omar Saeed, Binalshibh, and Mustafa Ahmed could be settled. Or, quite possibly, the December 2001 Moussaoui indictment was only officially adopted on the fly - perhaps as late as June 2002, when a decision was made to introduce Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the 9/11 mastermind.
Of the various pivot points in the unfolding 9/11 Legend, the time period of June 4-5 2002 was among the most significant. While, at this point, the new and improved Omar Saeed Legend was fully crystallized for the history books - though he had as yet to be convicted for the Pearl kidnapping - the early summer of 2002 was a time for tying up loose ends in the 9/11 Legend, wrapping it up for the history books, and getting on with reaping the benefits of September 11 - a new legal infrastructure (i.e. police state) for the American people and a geopolitical grab at some prime Central Asian resources (with perhaps a plan for world population reduction by way of the related germ threat).
And, indeed, it was a busy week. The Joint House-Senate Committee looking into 9/11 was getting up to gear, and first up was Coleen Rowley, the FBI counsel who had been widely hailed as a "courageous" whistleblower. Only a month earlier, the media was reporting how Rowley had sent FBI Director Mueller a memo questioning his version of the Moussaoui incident. As Rowley had framed it, the Minnesota FBI office had been repeatedly obstructed in its efforts to obtain a warrant for accessing Moussaoui's hard drive, and she cast the blame on the "higher-ups" in the Washington office. In the lead-up to the hearings, the media was "pre-selling" Rowley's scheduled appearance as a brewing scandal, with intimations that perhaps some damaging revelations would be aired before the probing audience of the nation's esteemed lawmakers. As a ratings booster, the marketing plan was a bona fide success, with millions of viewers tuning in to hear Rowley offer her "stunning" indictment of a pre-9/11 bureaucracy plagued by "antiquated" computer hardware and a bloated managerial structure. Prodded by her approving Senatorial inquisitors, Rowley offered her helpful recommendations in making America a more efficient police state - all in all, an extended advertisement for the PatriotAct and the inevitable Homeland Security apparatus. For all the smoke and mirrors, Rowley in the end was just one more "credible" witness for the prosecution - a media-certified "whistleblower" who adhered to the central contours of the Official 9/11 Legend.
Around the same time that the joint Senate-House Inquiry was proceeding under the co-chairmanship of Bob Graham and Porter Goss (the September 11 breakfast partners of Omar Saeed's reported ISI "handler"), Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was formally introduced as the operative mastermind behind 9/11. John J. Lumpkin of the Associated Press wrote the definitive article here, courtesy of the revelations of an anonymous "top U.S. counterterrorism official." As we will see, Lumpkin will play a crucial role in tying up the loose ends of the paymaster story - or rather, "muddying the waters" for any future investigators. Lumpkin's article (the June 4 or June 5 2002 version) was largely posted verbatim on the CBS and Fox websites, with each of these sites giving the impression that the news was actually ferreted out by their own reporters, acknowledging only that the Associated Press had merely "contributed" to the report. In the case of CBS' June 5 item, they largely cut-and- pasted in Lumpkin's article after a brief paragraph suggesting that this was all being reported by CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart - in other words, suggesting that the reader was mostly perusing the words of Stewart, not Lumpkin. Did Lumpkin take offense at this? Or did Lumpkin himself merely affix his own byline to an item that was likely nothing more than an official press release from the National Security Council? The article itself reads like government "talking points" for the unfolding 9/11 Legend. Moreover, it highlights the degree to which the "mainstream" news media is managed, centralized, and strategically compartmentalized to give the misleading impression that a widely circulated fact is "known" among a large body of "independent" journalists - when, in actual fact, they merely cite the same government press releases.
Lumpkin's key June article - or "press release" - served as a guidepost as to how the unfolding 9/11 Legend would finally crystallize. As reported by Lumpkin, in the same article where Khalid was introduced as the new 9/11 mastermind, he was also "accused of working with Ramzi Yousef in the first bombing of the World Trade Center [in '93]" in addition to working with Yousef on a 1995 plot (code-named Bojinka) to bomb a dozen airliners headed to the United States. But most significantly, Lumpkin's article referenced the 9/11 paymaster, now identified as "Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif, also known as Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, who is bin Laden's financial chief." Gone was any mention of a Shaikh Saiid alias Sa'd al-Sharif, bin Laden's brother-in law, as reported by the Associated Press back in December 2001. Now, in Lumpkin's June 5, 2002 version, Shaikh Saiid had been spliced together with al-Sharif, creating a Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif, the "financial chief" - tossing out the Sa'd portion of Sharif's name and any suggestion that bin Laden's brother-in-law had anything to do with this.
It was not by accident that the 9/11 paymaster - now officially dubbed as Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi - was mentioned in an article introducing Khalid as the mastermind. As it turned out, about the same time that Lumpkin's article was making the rounds, Robert Mueller was making a statement before the Senate-House Committee, narrating the full details of the money trail story (as set out in the Moussaoui indictment), but this time adding the role of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who, according to Mueller's statement, shared a credit card with Mustafa Ahmed "Alhawsawi."
Thus, Mueller inserted Khalid into the Money Trail Story by way of a direct connection with the "Mustafa Ahmad" alias. And now, thanks to Lumpkin, "Mustafa Ahmad" was not to be thought of as simply a convenient pseudonym, but rather as a real person, bin Laden's bona fide "financial chief." Omar Saeed was now fully excised out of the Money Trail Story, which, as of June 2002, was officially and unambiguously adopting the Hisawi (or Hawsawi) thread as the way to go. Still, the Omar Saeed thread would linger on past Saeed's July 15, 2002 conviction and death sentence, with Robert Sam Anson of Vanity Fair mentioning Saeed's $100,000 transaction, along with his association with Aftab Ansari. As a textbook example of "muddying the waters", all contingencies - or threads - were accounted for. Now all that remained was for Lumpkin to smooth over the apparent contradictions, which he would do - twice more - for the record before Mustafa Ahmed's conveniently timed arrest in March 2003.
Once Lumpkin's June 2002 article on Khalid was out, further incriminating details were coming out fast and furious. According to CBS News, U.S. officials now had "evidence" that Khalid had met with "some of the 9/11 hijackers at their Hamburg, Germany apartment in 1999." Presumably, Ramzi Binalshibh - Mohammed Atta's Hamburg roommate who was also thought to be a potential "twentieth hijacker" - was among them. Lumpkin's key June article also mentioned Binalshibh as part of Atta's Hamburg "cell." And as Binalshibh was paired with Mustafa Ahmed as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Moussaoui indictment, we have perhaps an indication that Khalid, Binalshibh, and Mustafa Ahmed were part of a concerted strategy touched off in early June 2002 to bring this phase of the 9/11 Legend to a close. Conveniently timed for release on the very next day - June 6, 2002 - further news followed that, according to National Security Agency intercepts, Khalid was heard talking on the telephone with hijacker Mohammed Atta. Moreover, for the very first time, authorities were now reporting that Khalid was actually the uncle of Ramzi Yousef. In other words, when the nephew failed to bring down the Towers in '93, the uncle took up the slack in '01.
Perhaps it was this sort of conceptually artistic symmetry that made Khalid so attractive as the designated mastermind. Through Khalid, one had a direct connection to the first World Trade Center attack, providing a smoking gun continuity leading directly to al-Qaida. Prior to Khalid's June 2002 public promotion, he was lurking on the official terror lists merely as an indicted conspirator in the 1995 Bojinka plot masterminded by Ramzi Yousef. Thus, while Khalid had not previously been directly connected to the 9/11 plot, he did make the "most wanted" cut based on his alleged 1995 collaboration with Yousef. With that in mind, one can almost picture sitting in with the members of the National Security Council on a balmy Spring morning in late May 2002, leafing through their photo albums as they argued over the most appropriate candidate to close off the official 9/11 Legend. As it turned out, they chose the guy with the unibrow and the hair shirt.
What was the official reason for revealing the role of Khalid at this point in time? According to CBS News, it was senior al-Qaida figure Abu Zubaydah (captured a few months previously) who had "fingered [Khalid] as the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks." Abu Zubaydah, the first "big fish" captured in the War On Terror, had previously - and conveniently - been fingered as a major al-Qaida player by Ahmed Ressam. Moreover, thanks again to John O'Neill's friend, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, Zubaydah's role in al-Qaida was fully delineated through Bruguiere's interviews with al-Qaida operative Djamel Begal, who purportedly had been part of a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris prior to September 11.
As we will see, once Ramzi Binalshibh's number comes up for apprehension (in September 2002), followed by the capture of Khalid and Mustafa Ahmed in March 2003, another version will be offered for the timing of Khalid's introduction as 9/11 mastermind. But first, we should take note of James Risen's June 5, 2002 article for the New York Times, in which Risen reported that the authorities "had begun to suspect soon after the [Sept. 11] attacks that [Khalid] had some role in the hijackings. But in the next months, a detailed financial investigation of the money trail from the plot led officials to believe that he had a more prominent role than previously suspected." In other words, as Risen had framed it, Khalid had first garnered notice for 9/11 by way of his connection to the money trail. Was this a retrospective addition into the record? - for Khalid most certainly did not make it into the Money Trail Story as of December 2001, when pretty much all the details of the money trail were crystallized within the Moussaoui indictment. On the other hand, there is a possibility that Khalid was intended from the very beginning to be featured as the 9/11 mastermind, yet perhaps he could not be safely inserted back into the Legend by way of the money trail until that nasty confusion over the "Mustafa Ahmad" alias was resolved.
To construct a viable Legend, it is not always a simple matter of outright fabrication - for then it would be a logistical nightmare in keeping an army of otherwise honest investigators from ascertaining the true physical facts. Rather - in terms of covert operations - a Legend works best when all its elements are actually played out, with real operatives making real transactions, leaving a trail of evidence that can - with assistance from apparent insiders like Bruguiere - help those investigators outside "the loop" to come to the desired conclusions. This would explain the apparent difficulty in fabricating an alternative Legend for Omar Saeed as paymaster - as his real role in 9/11 was already physically seeded into so many elements of the Legend as planned. If Omar Saeed Sheikh had actually played out the role as paymaster, then he would be physically linked to Binalshibh and Atta, who were essential elements in the Legend as it was played out.
Moreover, if Khalid was originally part of that Legend, his inclusion in the money trail aspect of that Legend would be problematic so long as Omar Saeed was being linked back to the ISI Chief (who in turn links back to Washington, D.C.). Furthermore, in order to ensure that all "insiders" were equally blackmailable - that is, no one party could use its inside knowledge to bring down another - the senior participants would each run their respective operatives in the Legend. Thus, insider elements within the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and others would each run their own agent, committing to the Legend and thus staking their credibility on the viability of that Legend.
In this respect, we could imagine Binalshibh and Atta as being "handled" by elements in German intelligence (with the assistance of federal German prosecutor Kay Nehm, perhaps), while French intelligence (in conjunction with Bruguiere, perhaps) would "handle" operatives such as Ressam or Zubaydah. As for the U.K., it is likely that Omar Saeed was their agent, for the obvious reason that Saeed's ideological transformation began there. Less certain, though plausible, is the prospect that Omar Saeed was in fact being "handled" by both British and Indian intelligence. That would, perhaps, explain the curious fact that, in the aftermath of 9/11, Indian authorities always seemed to have the inside scoop on the whereabouts and activities of Omar Saeed. As early as September 23, 2001 (the date of Omar Saeed's post-9/11 public debut), British authorities went on record as querying India on the whereabouts of Saeed - suggesting, by implication, that India had inside knowledge on this purportedly Pakistani ISI operative. Was Saeed, then, a double agent, putting himself at the service of the Pakistani ISI Chief, when in fact he was operating on behalf of Indian intelligence all along?
Certainly India had a stake in scapegoating the ISI for 9/11. Moreover, if there was an accompanying plan to use a second tier of proxy/patsies - generally, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel - this second tier would, by necessity, have to be outside the innermost "loop" yet employed in some direct, though compartmentalized, capacity. With concerted "leaks" pointing suspicions toward the second tier, the members of that tier could either be lulled - in the case of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, blame could be placed at the feet of "rogue" neo-cons for the leaks - or, alternatively, their silence could be coerced through the very real threat of "mainstreaming" the evidence already in place to implicate them (in the case of Israel). Certainly, given the scope of mainstream coverage in this respect, this scenario would seem most plausible.
Given the obvious murkiness of these complex interactions, it would be impossible at this point to fully posit what exactly went wrong in that first week of October 2001, when the Money Trail Story was picking up steam. Was the Omar Saeed "leak" a mischievous ploy by India to shore up its geopolitical interests vis-a-vis Pakistan? Was it a set-up to pressure the Americans? Or did the Indians, as outsiders, learn of the plan to use the Pakistani ISI as a proxy/patsy, and thereby sought to pressure the Americans against too heavily favoring their Pakistani proxy. It is not within the scope of this article to fully solve that riddle (if indeed it can be solved with the available evidence at hand). Rather, the intent is to put in place the contours of a general hypothesis that would plausibly be able to account for many of the strange coincidences, synchronicities, and conveniently timed set-ups that are so much a part of the 9/11 Legend. In short, without the proper analytical foundation, the events surrounding September 11 would remain a disjointed, inscrutable medley of facts - exactly in keeping with the intentions of its covert architects.
Returning to the matter of Khalid's new public role as 9/11 mastermind, his connection with Ramzi Yousef would also serve another purpose - linking Iraq to al-Qaida by way of Timothy Mc Veigh and the 1995 bombing of the FBI building in Oklahoma. The Mc Veigh-Iraqi thread, in fact, pre-dates the events of September 11 by a few years. In 1998, Timothy Mc Veigh's lawyer, Stephen Jones, had broached the existence of a videotaped interview with the co-founder of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, a purported al-Qaida front based out of the Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf leader, Edwin Angeles, had turned police informant in February 1995 (a couple months before the Oklahoma bombing), becoming, in the words of Richard Parry of The Independent, "a deep penetration agent of the Marines and the Philippine National Police." According to Jones, Angeles had informed the Philippine police that he had attended a series of meetings in the early '90's with Ramzi Yousef and an American who Jones was able to identify as Terry Nichols, the convicted accomplice of Timothy Mc Veigh. Nichols, married at the time to a Philippine woman, had made a series of trips to the Philippines - without his wife - visiting the very areas where Abu Sayyaf predominated. As Jones argued, it was Nichols who was the operative brains behind the Oklahoma bombing, and his client - a Gulf War veteran and former Burns security guard - was taking the fall as a patsy under the influence of Terry Nichols.
Moreover, Jones - through the Ramzi Yousef connection - was positing an Iraqi link to the Oklahoma bombing. As reported by Howard Pankratz of the Denver Post on October 12, 1998, Jones had personally learned from Laurie Mylroie (mentioned earlier in this article) and Vincent Cannistraro (also mentioned earlier) that Ramzi Yousef was an Iraqi intelligence agent. Yousef, a Kuwaiti, was on scene when the Gulf War broke out. As the legend goes, that conflagration led him - like bin Laden - to spearhead a permanent jihad against the United States.
Yousef's first big role was to act as the mastermind behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. As the legend has it, he managed to stay below the radar until January 1995, when a fire broke out in a Manila flat that he shared with his fellow conspirator, Abdul Hakim Murad. When Philippine authorities entered the premises, they managed to get a hold of documents and the contents of a computer hard drive that pointed to Ramzi Yousef's various activities, among them a plot to take out a dozen U.S.-bound airliners over the Pacific, code-named Bojinka. While Yousef's partner, Murad, was arrested, Yousef managed to evade Philippine authorities, escaping justice until February 1995, when he was finally arrested in a hotel room in Pakistan. As the official 9/11 Legend has it, John O'Neill's intensive collaboration with Richard Clarke began with the capture of Ramzi Yousef that February.
After the events of September 11, the Bojinka plot has taken on an added aura, presented, in retrospect, as the conceptual seed for the kind of massively coordinated hijackings that would be the trademark of the 9/11 plot. Thus, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's connection to the Bojinka plot would serve to illustrate - compellingly so - the evolution of al-Qaida's operational ambitions. In a similar manner, back in early October 2001 - before the original paymaster legend had fully fallen apart - CNN's Maria Ressa had sought to demonstrate the operational similarities between the 9/11 hijackings and the 1999 Air India hijacking that had resulted in Omar Saeed's release. Curiously, only a week before that item, Ressa had reported a possible 9/11 money trail leading back to the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf gang, and by implication, to a bin Laden brother-in-law named Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a suspected financier of Abu Sayyaf. In short, the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group is an integral part of the 9/11 Legend, and so a cursory look at its shadowy history will also serve to demonstrate that, here, too, exist a number of synchronicities that cannot so easily be dismissed.
According to a June 4, 2000 article by Zainon Ahmad in the New Straits Times, the Muslim fundamentalist Abu Sayyaf group "was a creation of the [Philippines] military." It was co-founded in 1991 by Abdurak Janjalani and Edwin Angeles. Of the two, Angeles' resume has all the markings of a classic deep penetration agent. Of mixed Muslim-Catholic parentage, Angeles was formerly trained as a guerilla fighter with the Communist New People's Army before his entry into the Muslim fundamentalist milieu. Angeles had served as Abu Sayyaf's operations chief until he suddenly defected in February 1995 (around the time that Ramzi Yousef was arrested for the Philippines-based Bojinka plot). As reported by Keith B. Richburg on May 25, 1995, Angeles may have openly defected from Abu Sayyaf when he came under suspicion by his comrades as being a possible government agent. But even in his new official capacity as a police informant, Angeles had proven to be somewhat erratic. On January 13, 1996, as reported in the Weekend Australian, Angeles claimed that the Philippine National Police had faked evidence in a massive dragnet of foreigners from Pakistan and the Middle East in order "to paint a scenario that [would] pave the way for the immediate passage of the [Philippine] anti-terrorism bill."
By the Fall of 1998, Angeles was once more in the headlines, this time courtesy of Timothy Mc Veigh's attorney, who had used Angeles' videotaped testimony before the Philippine police to show that Terry Nichols, Mc Veigh's alleged accomplice, had met with Angeles and Ramzi Yousef on several occasions. Thus, courtesy of Angeles, there was now a bona fide link between the domestic militia threat (exemplified by Mc Veigh and Nichols) and the foreign terror threat (exemplified by Yousef and bin Laden). Soon thereafter, on January 15, 1999, Angeles was gunned down on a city street - barely one month after his fellow Abu Sayyaf co-founder, Janjalani, had been killed in a shoot-out with the Philippine police. Oddly enough, according to a Business World article by Conrad M. Carino, Angeles had been "contesting the ASG [Abu Sayyaf Group] top post when he was killed by a lone gunman...The military believes Angeles was killed by his rival inside the [Abu Sayyaf Group]." One wonders, though, why a high profile Philippine police informant and defector would want to contest, much less have a shot at, the leadership post of the Muslim terror organization he had turned against. But more ominously, one wonders what this says about the Abu Sayyaf organization, a reputed al-Qaida affiliate that figures so prominently in the 9/11 Legend.
Moreover, the Angeles/ Terry Nichols episode serves to illustrate a suspicious convergence between the respective militia and al-Qaida threats. And in this respect, Timothy Mc Veigh and Ramzi Yousef are most emblematic of that convergence - for their respective paths to infamy had arisen out of the 1991 Gulf War conflagration known as Desert Storm. In the years thereafter - in fact, almost in lockstep with the passing of the Soviet threat - we now had the unfolding legends of Waco, Ruby Ridge, World Trade Center I, Oklahoma, the Unabomber, and World Trade Center II. In all these events, the message was singular: we were entering a new age of insecurity, with new and sophisticated dangers bearing down on us from within and from without. If the Ramzi Yousef episode had not quite made a sufficient impact on our collective consciousness, if Timothy Mc Veigh had failed to stir us from our complacent slumber, then we were ripe for the plucking by September 11, 2001 - ready to serve up our civil rights, our right to privacy, our constitutional checks and balances - and prepared to place our trust in a government empowered by our collective ignorance of the facts.
If the presumed Mc Veigh/Ramzi Yousef link had only hinged on the slim thread of Stephen Jones' accusations, it would perhaps have been easy to dismiss it all as the opportunistic ramblings of a defeated counselor. Yet this link would be resurrected as late as April 22, 2002, when Kenneth Timmerman of Insight had broached the existence of an audiotaped interview with Philippine authorities, given by the dying 27-year old widow of Edwin Angeles. Angeles' widow, Elmina, had repeated Angeles' contention that he had met with Nichols and Yousef, but more revealingly, she was now contending - in the words of her deceased mate - that Yousef was acting on behalf of Saddam Hussein. In other words, Yousef - by this time definitively tagged as an al-Qaida operative - was doing double duty as an Iraqi agent. Elmina died within days of her interview, felled by liver disease.
Once again, here was an example of a counter-legend masking the plausible reality. As this particular counter-legend had it, there really was a militia/al-Qaida convergence, yet it was a result of a common desire to bring down the U.S. federal government. This counter-legend, though, served to mask an opposing reality - that it was the federal government, in fact (or the powerful elites behind it) that were managing this convergence so as to consolidate the power of the federal authorities. The counter-legend of this convergence thus remained in the background, ready to be "mainstreamed" if needed, but most importantly, serving to muddy the waters in ferreting out the true, opposing reality.
While the mainstream media was continuing to treat this particular counter-legend as a fringe conspiracy theory, it was gradually being "beefed up" through the carefully calibrated revelations of two major players in the dissemination of the Official 9/11 Legend - James Woolsey and Vincent Cannistraro. As reported by Jack Kelly in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 7, 2002: "On April 19 , the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, a source in Saudi Arabia's intelligence service told Vincent Cannistraro, then the chief of counterterrorism for the C.I.A., that an Iraqi hit squad was scouting targets to attack in Oklahoma City, Houston, and Los Angeles."
In order to make the connection more clear, the article helpfully went on to point out that "the Oklahoma City bomb was identical to the 1993 World Trade Center bomb." In other words, here was the thread that linked Saddam Hussein to the whole kit and kaboodle of terrorism on the American mainland (now dubbed as the homeland).
Following up on this thread was an article in the Indianapolis Star on September 7, 2002:
"A statement by former CIA Director James Woolsey has given new credibility to suspicions of Iraqi involvement in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 - enough to merit congressional hearings."
The article further revealed that Woolsey had credited Laurie Mylroie, "who independently unearthed evidence of a Baghdad connection to domestic terrorism prior to Sept. 11, 2001." As an example of this connection, the article mentioned that Terry Nichols had contacted Iraqi intelligence in the Philippines in order to acquire bomb-making experience.
Calibrated revelations, indeed - for one need not have access to the National Security Agency's all-seeing Echelon surveillance network in order to track the early stirrings of the al-Qaida/right wing militia/ Oklahoma thread of the 9/11 Legend. On December 1, 1994 - only a few months before Edwin Angeles' defection and Ramzi Yousef's arrest, and just five months before the Oklahoma bombing - bin Laden brother-in-law and Abu Sayyaf financier, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, entered the United Sates where, within weeks, he was arrested in San Francisco and held over pending deportation hearings. Only two days before the Oklahoma bombing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Khalifa was linked by Philippine authorities to Ramzi Yousef, with the article further mentioning Khalifa's relationship to bin Laden.
By this time, bin Laden had yet to make his international splash in the public consciousness as the world's foremost terrorist mastermind. And certainly, bin Laden's al-Qaida network had yet to be unveiled to the world at large (at least by name). Thus, soon after the Oklahoma bombing, terrorism expert Kenneth Katzman took the opportunity to familiarize the American public with its soon-to-be-infamous nemesis and his "shadowy network," suggesting in an April 21, 1995 article in USA Today that Osama bin Laden was a potential suspect in the Oklahoma bombing: "If there is a Mideast connection, says terrorism expert Kenneth Katzman, it could lead to a shadowy network of former freedom fighters who train in terrorist camps in Sudan and then export their violence to Algeria, Egypt, and the USA." With Katzman's declaration, one can almost hear - in retrospect - Katzman barely restraining himself from whispering...al-Qaida (though the term al-Qaida was scheduled for public release at a later date). The article went on to mention that bin Laden was being named by federal prosecutors as a potential co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
What a difference a few months make. In December 1994, bin Laden brother-in-law Khalifa was arrested and soon thereafter deported by U.S. authorities to Jordan, with nary a suggestion of any apparent connection to a worldwide terrorist plot. Yet in the aftermath of a fortuitous fire in a small Manila flat in January 1995, we now had the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack (Ramzi Yousef), the mastermind's potential co-conspirators (Khalifa and bin Laden), the designs of an attempted mass coordinated hijacking (Bojinka), the existence of another conspirator arising out of that attempted coordinated hijacking (Khalid Shaikh Mohammed), and the most indelible eruption of the domestic right wing threat (Oklahoma). Put bluntly, if September 11 was now being marketed as a failure to "connect the dots" by the intelligence apparatus, those dots were being lined up quite neatly by the mainstream media as early as April 1995.
In short, the main structural contours of the 9/11 Legend were firmly in place by April of 1995, laying the groundwork in the months ahead for Osama bin Laden to take center stage as America's foremost enemy. Barely seven months later, in November 1995, a terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, resulted in the deaths of 5 U.S. personnel. A November 27, 1995 U.S. News and World Report item by Louise Lief was now raising the possibility of a bin Laden link, mentioning the Yousef/ Khalifa/ bin Laden nexus that was ferreted out only several months before. And, sure enough, the perpetrators of the Riyadh attack were duly apprehended, revealing - before their execution by Saudi authorities - that they were, in fact, connected to Osama bin Laden.
By the summer of 1996, bin Laden himself may have sensed that the American public had been seeded with enough innuendo and suspicion to merit a bona fide declaration of war - and perhaps care enough to pay attention. On June 25, 1996, the Khobar Towers facility in Saudi Arabia was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 19 U.S. servicemen. Little more than two weeks later, on July 10, 1996, journalist Robert Fisk of the Independent managed to track down bin Laden at his tent headquarters somewhere in Afghanistan (after being booted out of his base in Sudan a few months earlier at U.S. insistence). There, Fisk recorded for posterity bin Laden's proclamation of "the beginning of war between Muslims and the United States." This was not Fisk's first encounter with bin Laden. His first encounter dates back to December 6, 1993, when Fisk had the distinction of being the first Western journalist ever to interview Osama bin Laden. At that time, bin Laden was ensconced in Sudan, apparently more obsessed with building a highway for the benefit of his impoverished Sudanese hosts than with launching an international jihad against the American occupiers of cherished Saudi soil. Perhaps overlooking the self-professed contributions of David Rockefeller's protege, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Fisk made a prophecy in his introductory bin Laden article:
"When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written, Mr. Bin Laden's own contribution to the mujahedin - and the indirect result of his training and assistance - may turn out to be a turning- point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism; even if, today, he tries to minimise his role."
The above statement, more than any other, perhaps reveals why Osama bin Laden was chosen as the most suitable candidate to head up the Official 9/11 Legend - for he was, by this time, more clearly known as the poster boy for the Afghani resistance which had ousted the Soviet occupiers. The 1993 version of bin Laden was certainly a far cry from the fire-breathing jihadist of 1996. "I am a construction engineer and an agriculturalist," he modestly proclaimed to Fisk in that Ur-interview, describing the fellow Afghani comrades that he had brought with him to Sudan as fellow road-builders. "Was it not a little bit anti-climactic for them," Fisk inquired, "to fight the Russians and end up road-building in Sudan?" "They like this work and so do I," bin Laden replied. If bin Laden, by this time, had any grievances against America, it seemed to be relegated to the assignment of credit for kicking Russian ass: "Personally neither I nor my brothers saw evidence of American help."
By Fisk's return visit, the "shy man" previously described by Fisk had apparently metamorphosed into a humorless fanatic, droning on about America and jihad - the kind of character one would expect in the months after April 1995. Though the American military had first set up base on hallowed Saudi territory as early as August 1990 (in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait), it took bin Laden a full six years to work up the nerve to publicly enunciate his fullest fury over the U.S. presence on the sacred Saudi ummah. And, now that he had crossed that rubicon in Fisk's presence, he apparently couldn't shut up - setting up exclusive interviews hither and thither with Peter Arnett, Peter Bergen, John Miller, [ robert-fisk.com/usama_interview_timemagazine.htm Rahimullah Yusufszai], Abdel Bari Atwan, and Jamal Ismail, among others - spouting his venom in counterpoint to the ominous prophecies of media-favored "experts" now warning of an imminent worldwide campaign of terror.
Apparently emboldened by his July 1996 verbal declaration of war in Fisk's presence, bin Laden retreated to his tent in order to compose a more proper written declaration of war on America, formally unveiling it on August 23, 1996 - a rambling, mind-numbingly boring 12-page screed against the "Zionist-Crusader" alliance. By that point, the widely marketed public face of that alliance - Richard Perle for the "Zionists" and John Ashcroft for the Christian "Crusaders" - had yet to be assembled within the inner sanctum of the Bush Administration (now strangely bereft of the "old-line" Rockefeller/ Baker folks).
With bin Laden's historic declaration of war, a new brand of terrorism was being marketed to the American public - a global terror network with no clear state sponsor, employing "sleeper" agents and coded "go" messages, seeking out suitcase nukes and sophisticated weaponized germs. Marketed by an insular clique of terrorism "experts," al-Qaida (Arabic for "the Base") seemed to employ the kind of covert techniques that one would normally read about from the standard operating manuals of the CIA or MI6. While the best that the Syrians and Iranians could muster up for Hamas and Hezbollah were car bombs and Katyusha rockets, al-Qaida was putting the "traditional" terror outfits to shame - and all this on a purportedly "frozen" $300 million investment portfolio (Osama bin Laden's estimated net worth).
If al-Qaida had one notable failing, it was in its almost obsessive inclination to leave a noticeably untangled trail of its operatives' names and pseudonyms. In other words, we know where Mohammed Atta worked, slept, played, and banked because he was thoughtful enough to scatter his name like bird droppings in the midst of his travels. Even more thoughtfully, when he sent out a package to a "Mustafa Ahmad," it turned out - as the official legend now has it - that the intended recipient really was named Mustafa Ahmad. In the end, one could not ask for a more ideal organization than al-Qaida in building a clear-cut legend with all the dots connecting.
Next: The Summer 2002 Marketing Plan:
Truth Lies Marketing