2004-09-24 / Front Page

Website Editor Says Shoe Bomber Story May Explain AA 587 Eyewitness Reports

Victor Trombettas, the editor of US Read.com, has contributed many stories on the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 to The Wave. This is the latest installment in a series about the crash that appear on his website.

Canada’s National Post ran a story on August 27, written by Stewart Bell, about information that was gathered from an Al Qaeda operative, Mohammed Mansour Jabarah. This article revealed that there was a belief at the top levels of Al Qaeda (no later than May 2002) that a shoe bomber had downed American Airlines Flight 587 (FL587). 

Stewart Bell’s information for this story came from a classified Canadian Intelligence report, whose content has been verified by U.S.Read . Canadian Intelligence interrogated Jabarah for five days in May 2002. Jabarah gave the name of Abderraouf Jdey, also known as Farouk the Tunisian, as the person responsible for the crash of FL587.

Within the United States government, Daniel Pipes serves on the “Special Task Force on Terrorism and Technology” at the Department of Defense. He is also director of the Middle East Forum, a member of the presidentially-appointed board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, and a prize-winning columnist for the New York Sun and The Jerusalem Post .  Mr. Pipes responded to this new information) by stating:

“AA 587’s crash preceded Richard Reid’s attempted bombing by over a month, so the heightened alert for shoe bombs was not yet in place when AA 587 went down. Reid’s later success in getting the explosives on board and nearly detonating them suggests that if Jdey was on the plane and did try a shoe bomb, he could well have succeeded.”

The most pressing question in response to the National Post article is:  “Was the alleged shoe bomber, Abderraouf Jdey, on Flight 587’s passenger manifest?”

While there were no Canadian passports on the publicly available manifest, Jdey had access to multiple passports and aliases. If he had boarded, he might have done so under a different name and passport. For example, Richard Reid used what was believed to be a fake British passport to board American Airlines Flight 63 (FL63).  His real name is Tariq Raja and he is from Sri Lanka. Other aliases he had used were Abdel Rahim and Abu Ibrahim.

Alternatively, Jdey may have recruited someone else to conduct the bombing. What is chilling is that Jdey left Canada less than two months after 9/11 (apparently before Nov. 12, 2001), never to return. The FBI believes Jdey is still alive because he is currently one of their top “BOLO’s” (Be On the Look-Out for). 

Jdey recorded a suicide mission video in 1999 which was found in an Al Qaeda safe-house in Afghanistan.  It is generally believed he was a candidate for the 9/11 hijackings, and had trained with some of the 9/11 hijackers, but was placed in reserve for a second wave of attacks after 9/11. It appears that is why he left Canada –– to work on the “second wave.”

Mohammed Mansour Jabarah was trained by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and Usama Bin Laden (UBL).  Jabarah had KSM’s phone number in Pakistan –– where he would call for his assignments. Jabarah was arrested in Oman in 2002 when he was on a mission for KSM and had been working on bombing soft targets in Southeast Asia. At the time of his capture by Oman police, KSM was using him to provide safe passage for approximately 15 Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan trying to work their way to Al Qaeda’s new base in Yemen. One reason UBL liked Jabarah was because he spoke fluent English and had a clean Canadian passport.

Jabarah surrendered this information about Flight 587 to Canadian Intelligence no later than May of 2002, and that information was made available to the FBI at the same time.  Jabarah was transferred to the FBI in New York City no later than July 2002 and pleaded guilty to multiple counts in secret proceedings.  He is cooperating, and has provided useful information to the FBI.

Jabarah was not involved in the FL587 plot himself, but he learned of it from another top KSM deputy, Abu Abdelrahman. Sometime in the spring of 2002, Abdelrahman told Jabarah that Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance leader, Massoud, had been killed by an Al Qaeda action. This is now known to be true. During that conversation, Abdelrahman added that FL587 was also an Al Qaeda action.

Jabarah’s credibility: At the time of his initial interrogation by Canadian Intelligence, Jabarah’s credibility was unknown. That was about to change. After his handover to the FBI and before the October 12, 2002 deadly bombing in Bali, Jabarah told U.S. investigators that an operative by the name of “Hambali” was planning to conduct bombings in bars, cafes, or nightclubs frequented by Westerners in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Jabarah provided evidence linking Richard Reid to Al Qaeda. Reid attempted to use a shoe bomb on American Airlines FL63 on December 22, 2001. Additionally, after Jabarah’s transfer to the FBI, it was believed

he could provide useful information against Zacarias Moussaoui and Jose Padilla (the alleged “dirty bomber”).  His own involvement in Al Qaeda, his knowledge of the involvement of others, and his direct link to KSM, established Jabarah as a very credible and useful witness.

What does the FBI think of Jabarah’s claim regarding FL587? The FBI has not returned our calls.  Whatever their opinion, the FBI cannot have their cake and eat it too. If the FBI views his FL587 claims as “not credible” how do they make such a determination when it seems the other intelligence they have garnered from him was very credible? For example, his foretelling of the Indonesia bombing and the involvement of “Hambali” proved totally correct.

Did the FBI tell the NTSB in the summer of 2002 of this intelligence from Jabarah? Did this lead to a second look at the wreckage for any possible evidence of a small bomb being detonated on board FL587? Richard Reid had no more than 6 to 8 ounces of explosives in his shoes. The NTSB has not responded to any of our questions on this issue.

Who is Abu Abdelrahman? Abu Abdelrahman, a top KSM affiliate, was Jabarah’s source for the FL587 claim. Steven Emerson, a well-known terrorism expert, testified before the 9/11 Commission and had this to say about Abdelrahman, a.k.a. Hassan Al-Suraihi (emphasis ours):

Hassan Al-Suraihi (a.k.a. Abu Abdelrahman) is a former Imam of Shaykh Abdelaziz Bin Baz’s mosque in the Al-Shashah neighborhood of Mecca. Al-Suraihi is a veteran Arab-Afghan, having fought alongside Usama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and “witnessed the birth” of Al-Qaeda . Al-Suraihi later served six years in a Saudi jail for an undisclosed number of “state security violations.”

What we cannot ignore is –– this claim about FL587 came from the highest operatives in Al Qaeda very soon after the crash.

Could a Shoe Bomb Explain Events On Board FL587? As we outlined in the Summary of our Preliminary Report, the NTSB’s conclusions about FL587 do not square well with the physical evidence and eyewitness accounts. The evidence suggests that the tail separation was not the cause of the crash, and that there was something very wrong with the aircraft during the time the pilot was aggressively controlling it. Specifically, there were electrical interruptions on board during that time along with ground and Bay witnesses reporting the aircraft having exploded and/or being on fire before tail separation. Also, the tail departed several seconds after the NTSB’s timeline suggests it did, yet the crew had lost control of the aircraft before tail separation. Therefore, it appears tail separation was not the cause of the crash any more than the engine separations were.

The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) likely holds the most important clues. The NTSB has never explained the airframe rattles heard before tail separation, or the unusual spikes of noise energy, or the malfunctions of the CVR (stop/starts) –– all which occurred before the tail separated. Something must account for these and other anomalies. The NTSB’s statements thus far don’t even acknowledge these anomalies, much less explain them.

U.S.Read has not bought into anyone particular theory about why FL587 crashed. We have remained focused on the evidence and based our Preliminary Report on that evidence.  We have stated clearly in the Summary of our Preliminary Report (both of which can be found at www.usread. com), that the evidence suggests an explosion/fire before the tail separated.  We did not speculate about the source (terrorism or accident) of that explosion/fire. That said, we depart from our previous practice and make the following statement, which is our best judgment given the facts in hand to date:

• The most likely initiating event was a terrorist attack (be it a bomb or mechanical sabotage).

• The second most likely cause is an accidental explosion/fire caused by faulty wiring, or some other accidental mechanical cause.

• The least likely scenario is that which has been put forth by the NTSB investigation. We consider it not impossible, but least likely, because the NTSB scenario does not reconcile well with the majority of the physical evidence, and completely ignores some physical evidence, including the eyewitness accounts.

We are not declaring that FL587 was downed by terrorists –– only that we believe that is the most likely explanation given all the evidence, especially in light of the new information which was acquired by Canadian Intelligence.

U.S.Read has learned from a source within the FL587 investigation that there were indicators of a high velocity explosion (bomb) discovered in the wreckage of FL587 soon after the crash –– even before the flight recorders were recovered. Immediately, the official reaction was that this potential evidence was not significant. We do not know if residue testing was performed, although the NTSB implies such testing was performed. The NTSB has stated that no explosive residue traces were found in any of the wreckage but they offered no details about how much of the wreckage was tested.

Is the NTSB convinced they have all the evidence?

NTSB Spokesman Ted Loptakiewicz, in response to queries from the National Post’s Stewart Bell, stated: “There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell — at least that’s been relayed to us — that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have , is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin.”

“At least that’s been relayed to us... at least the evidence we have”. These are not very confident or definitive words from the NTSB. In addition to opening the door to the possibility that not all evidence may have been relayed to the NTSB, the NTSB also seemed to imply that as the lead agency in this investigation, the NTSB might not be guardians of all the facts.  Instead of conveying with conviction that there was no terrorist activity and that they have every shred of evidence that exists, the NTSB instead made a statement that conveyed doubt.

U.S. Intelligence received a threat specific to Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day fell on Sunday, November 11th (in 2001) and the holiday was observed on Monday the 12th, the day FL587 crashed.  Bill Gertz, writing for the Washington Times on November 13th, had this to say: One intelligence official said a warning was sent to senior Bush administration officials last week stating that unidentified terrorists were planning to carry out some type of mass attack on Nov. 11 - Veterans Day... the intelligence report about the possible attack was specific enough to raise concerns, this official said.  A second U.S. official confirmed that there were “some reports that something might happen in connection with Veterans Day”.

Of further interest, in light of Jabarah’s revelations about Jdey (the alleged FL587 shoe bomber), is this statement from Gertz:

  The warning originated in a North African nation that in the past had been associated with international terrorism

Gertz did not identify the North African nation. The alleged FL587 shoe bomber, Abderraouf Jdey, was known to Al Qaeda as Farouk the Tunisian.  Tunisia is on the North African coast.  The link to North Africa from this pre-November 12th intelligence along with the information about Farouk the Tunisian is interesting, and perhaps more than a coincidence.

If FL587 was downed by Al Qaeda, why didn’t they take credit for it early on? Al Qaeda does not always take immediate credit for acts they perpetrate. For quite a while after 9/11, Al Qaeda denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks although they did praise them.

Second, Jabarah told interrogators of the FL587/Al Qaeda connection in May of 2002, less than 6 months after the crash. The delay in this information becoming publicized is due to the FBI and U.S. Intelligence holding it back. 

Third, if FL587 was downed by a shoe bomb (or some other type of incendiary device), this would be the first explosion on board a U.S. airliner on U.S. soil. Al Qaeda might have been testing a new technique (e.g. shoe bombs) originally developed by Ramzi Yousef and KSM. To take immediate public credit might hamper any future attacks –– like the December 22, 2001 shoe bombing attempt by Richard Reid. Reid tried to take down an American Airlines flight (FL63) with such a new device. Was his the first attempt to use this new weapon? Or had they proven the efficacy of this design on American Airlines FL587?

Wouldn’t the FBI have found explosive residue if there had been a bomb on board? The NTSB Structures Report stated that the majority of the fuselage of the airplane was consumed in the post-crash fire.  Therefore, it’s possible, if we take the word “consumed” literally –– that there wasn’t enough of the aircraft left to test for residue.

The FBI has made no specific statement about what tests they did or did not perform, how much of the aircraft they tested, whether or not the victim’s bodies were tested, or if they received any positive residue results which were later determined to be false positives. The only information we have about “residue” is the NTSB’s Bob Benzon saying that there was none found. But the NTSB does not scan for explosive residue or look for signs of criminal activity. This would mean the FBI performed those residue tests –– tests for which there are no reports or public statements. Several months after the crash, the FBI’s Public Affairs Office in New York told U.S.Read that the FBI “conducted whatever tests we felt were necessary to conduct,” but would not release any information about what those tests were or what the results of the tests were.

But if the NTSB has it right –– that there were no residue traces found (or any evidence of criminality) –– why has the Department of Justice stated to U.S.Read that FL587 is still an “ongoing criminal investigation”?

FAA Security Circular dated December 11, 2001

Almost a month after the crash of FL587, and 11 days before Richard Reid’s attempt on American Airlines FL63, the FAA issued a security bulletin to the airlines which included the warning that terrorists might try to hide weapons in their shoes .

The FAA never answered our question, “Where did the intelligence for this warning come from?” This warning is notable in that it preceded Richard Reid’s attempt but followed FL587. Was something learned from FL587, or did someone remember Ramzi Yousef’s Operation Bojinka plans from the mid 1990’s –– which included hiding parts of a bomb in shoes?

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