by Jerry Gordon (September 2011)
On September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists, well educated young men – Saudi, Egyptian, and Yemeni nationals – hijacked four airliners (American Airlines Flight 11 and United Flight 175 from Boston’s Logan airport, American Airlines Flight 77 from Dulles airport and United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark Airport). With captive passengers aboard, they flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Brave actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 led to the first counter-attack within thirty minutes of the sky-jacking. The Flight 93 heroes overcame the Islamic terrorists diverting the aircraft from its ultimate target the Capital building in Washington, crashing into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania instead.
This article commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It identifies two of the little known heroes of the attack on the World Trade Center, assesses the immediate aftermath and the recent revenge killings of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and operations chief Atiyah Abdal-Rahman. This article also discusses the rise of al Qaeda affiliates who continue to threaten this country and the world. New revelations about Iran’s and Hizbullah’s involvement in training and facilitating the transit of the 9/11 Islamic terrorists towards their objectives on that fateful day are also covered.
A Memorial to those killed at the Pentagon was dedicated by President Bush in 2008. The New York 9/11 Memorial will be dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the attack. The Memorial to the Flight 93 has just completed its first phase.
Recollections by this author and Catherine Martin of their experiences on 9/11 in New York and Washington, DC appeared in a September, 2008 New English Review article: Islamic Terror Hits America.
Two Heroes who died in the World Trade Center attacks
Rick Rescorla and Morgan Stanley security officials lost on 9/11
Two heroes killed in the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center were Rick Rescorla and John P. O’Neill. Rescorla was a British-Born American, a professional solder and a veteran of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley during the Viet Nam War. Rescorla, a platoon leader during this epic battle is featured on the cover of a book by James B. Stewart, Heart of a Soldier. Rescorla, a retired and much decorated US Army Colonel became head of security in 1990 for the investment banking firm Morgan Stanley that occupied four floors in the of the World Trade Center. His security team had analyzed the vulnerabilities of the World Trade Complex to a possible terror attack prior to the 1993 terror bombing. He and his team eerily predicted in 1998 what happened on 9/11. Rescorla and his team following the 1993 bombing undertook relentless drills to assure that Morgan Stanley employees could vacate their offices in the event of a subsequent attack. After assuring himself that the 5,700 Morgan Stanley employees had been safely evacuated in the 9/11 attacks, he returned to make sure that all had left the destroyed building safely. He and two of his colleagues involved in the evacuation were inside when the building collapsed. Watch this History Channel You Tube video on Rick Rescorla and 9/11: The Man Who Saw it Coming.
John P. O’Neill ex-FBI Counterterrorism chief lost on 9/11
John P. O’Neill was another ironic victim of 9/11. He was the somewhat controversial former FBI Counterterrorism chief during the Clinton Administration who relentlessly pursued and eventually captured Ramzi Yousef, the perpetrator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Yousef was arrested in Pakistan by the much-maligned Inter-Service Intelligence agency and brought to the US for trial and ultimate conviction. The bombing had involved several others, including the blind Egyptian Cleric Abdul Rahman. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Yousef’s uncle funded the bombing in which seven died and thousands were injured. O’Neill’s pursuit of the 1993 World Trade Center perpetrators was chronicled in Lawrence Wright’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize non-fiction work, The Looming Tower. Andrew McCarthy, author and counterterrorism authority was a federal prosecutor in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing trial. O’Neill had been appointed as FBI Chief of Counterterrorism in 1994 in Washington, DC. O’Neill was involved in the investigations of 1995 Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia, the investigation of the April 1995 domestic terror bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Saleem in Tanzania. The African Embassies investigation led to Osama bin Laden being posted on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. O’Neill retired from the FBI and assumed the post of security director for the World Trade Center in August, 2001, only to lose his life while at his desk on the morning of 9/11.
Watch this YouTube video tribute to 9/11 Hero John P. O’Neill.
The 9/11 attack and its aftermath
These 19 Muslim terrorists killed more people than the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 – over 3,000. They didn’t discriminate in their mindless slaughter whether their victims were Christians, Jews, fellow Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus. Economic losses from the unprovoked attack ran into the billions. Trauma touched hundreds of millions in America and around the globe. The names Osama bin Laden and Ayman al- Zawahiri of al Qaeda became front page news. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the alleged mastermind of 9/11 was subsequently captured. He confessed under duress and subsequently has been in detention at Guantanamo Bay awaiting prosecution and possible conviction at a long-awaited military tribunal.
The country on 9/11 was suddenly adrift in the wake of this disastrous ‘Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century.’ In the years that followed 9/11, our country’s military found itself enmeshed in the long war against the network of Islamic Jihad terror groups in Afghanistan, Iraq and world-wide, costing thousands of casualties and billions of dollars to prosecute. Over seventeen thousand Islamic terror attacks have occurred, since 9/11. Hundreds of thousands have died or been horribly injured from these jihad attacks. Attacks like those made by Indonesian Islamists on a crowded Bali nightspot on October 12, 2002 favored by Australians, by Moroccan Al Qaeda affiliates on commuter trains in Madrid on March 11, 2004, and by native born British Muslims on the bus and underground system in London on July 7, 2005.
Muslim young people, we suddenly learned, are being indoctrinated in fundamentalist Islam in mosques and madrassas throughout the world’s Muslim community of believers – the ummah. These believers are collectively engaged in a jihad, or struggle, to remove all obstacles to the spread and ultimate dominance of Islam. One of these obstacles is the Constitution of the United States of America. This effort is being financed with billions of petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. Terms like Londonistan and Eurabia are now commonly used to describe the Islamization and infiltration of the U.K. and the E.U. by Muslim advocacy groups demanding enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law.
Instead of rejecting and stifling this hate-filled Islamic doctrine threatening America, our national leaders have resorted to an ostrich-like pose to avoid this reality. Terms like “Islamist,” “Jihad,” and “Islamic terror” have been officially banned from national and homeland security lexicons. Our government treats Saudi Arabia as a “valued ally” while the latter fosters hatred of everything we stand for. Our alliance with Pakistan in combating al Qaeda and Taliban Islamic terrorists was strained to the breaking point when revenge for the 9/11 attacks occurred on May 2, 2011 in the form of the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
The Death of Bin Laden and al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan
On May 2, 2011, relentless perseverance by CIA and other counterterrorism intelligence assets revealed the identity of an Al Qaeda courier. A US Navy Seal Team Six composed of 40 raiders inserted by helicopters seized the high walled compound occupied by bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the tall al Qaeda leader and others. Upon their departure, the raiders took with them a literal treasure trove of electronic intelligence. The site of bin Laden’s secure complex was located within a short distance of Pakistan’s Military Academy. That close proximity raised questions about how complicit Pakistan, and in particularly its Inter-Service Intelligence agency, had been in protecting bin Laden’s identity and whereabouts for many years following the 9/11 attack. Nonetheless, the intelligence obtained in the raid led to the killing via a drone attack in Pakistan in late August, 2011 of Atiyah Abdal-Rahman, a Libyan and No. 2 in charge of operational planning for al Qaeda. Abdal-Rahman had been in frequent contact with the late Osama bin Laden prior to the latter’s death on May 2.
Watch this You Tube video report of the killing of Osama bin-Laden.
As Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius opined following the killing of Abdal-Rahman, the core al Qaeda leadership may have suffered a series of major blows which may have prevented another catastrophic attack akin to 9/11 from occurring:
Bin Laden had been working with Rahman to plan a spectacular strike against a US target, pegged to the September 11 anniversary. It's not clear how far that planning had progressed, but whatever its level, it will be hampered, maybe even disrupted, by the death of the man whom bin Laden charged with organizing the details of the plot.
However, Ayman al- Zawahiri, who succeeded the fallen bin Laden as Al-Qaeda head, remains at large urging further attacks against US assets in the Middle East, South Asia and here in America. He has received support from the world wide web of Al Qaeda affiliates in the Mahgreb, The Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, the Taliban in Pakistan and the Philippines.
As noted in a recent White House US Counterterrorism Strategy document released in June 2011, these al Qaeda affiliates remain a constant terrorism threat:
Affiliated movements have taken root far beyond Al-Qaida’s core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including in Middle East, East Africa, the Maghreb and Sahel regions of northwest Africa, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. Although each group is unique, all aspire to advance al-Qaida’s regional and global agenda—by destabilizing the countries in which they train and operate, attacking US and other Western interests in the region, and in some cases plotting to strike the US Homeland.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Connections to 9/11
One of these affiliates, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has launched several attempts at bombing targets in the US, orchestrated, it is believed, by renegade American born Yemeni radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki met and may have harbored 9/11 perpetrators in both San Diego and later in Northern Virginia. Congressman Peter King of the US House Homeland Security Committee has opened an investigation into these allegations. Al-Awlaki met three of the five 9/11 hijackers on Flight 77. Al-Awlaki had been invited to prayer meetings by Muslim staffers on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and attended events at the Pentagon following 9/11. Mysteriously, Al-Awlaki was permitted to leave the US for Yemen in 2002 following FBI interrogations. He rose to prominence in the AQAP as a radical preacher with global influence spread in part by English language tapes and publications. Further, it is alleged that Al-Awlaki influenced several Nigerian, Pakistani-American, Palestinian–American and home grown terrorists who undertook bombing attempts and killings of US military personnel. The failed bombing attempts include the Nigerian Christmas, 2009 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and the Pakistani–American Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad in May, 2010. Among the murderous Jihadis influenced by Al-Awlaki are Palestinian-American Maj. Nidal Hasan, about to be tried and sentenced in a US Army Courts Martial, who committed the Fort Hood Massacre in November, 2009. A second Jihadi acolyte is convert Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, aka Carlos Bledsoe, who killed a US Army recruiter and wounded a second at a Little Rock, Arkansas mall in June 2010. Bledsoe-Muhammad had gone to Yemen for training. Within days following bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan, a US drone attack in Yemen took out two of Al- Awlaki’s aides, but failed to get him.
The Iran-Hizbullah Connections to 9/11
Another emerging development has been the apparent connections of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hizbullah to the Al-Qaeda attack on 9/11. The Hizbullah terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah, may have both trained and facilitated the transit of the 9/11 perpetrators. These revelations arose as a result of a mammoth 900 page filing made in the New York Federal Southern District Court on May 19, 2011 by the counsel for the 9/11 families on the links of Iran to 9/11 ( the “9/11 links case”). The case is known as Fiona Havlish et al., v. Sheik Usamah bin-Muhammad bin-Laden et al.
Counsel noted the objective of the Iran Links case:
“We simply want to make sure that those who are responsible for assisting the September 11 terrorists in their attack on the United States are found accountable for the harm they caused,” said Fiona Havlish whose husband, Donald, perished on the 101st floor of the North Tower.
The filing contains definitive proof drawn from affidavits of Iranian defectors and others that Iran and its proxy Hizbullah were in on the planning for the 9/11 attack by facilitating training and transit. The court has sealed the identities and testimonies of two Iranian intelligence service defectors for their own protection. The delay in the 9/11 Iran links case was occasioned by the cancer treatment of the main counsel in the matter, Atty. Thomas E. Mellon Jr. The case originally filed in Washington in 2002 was moved to the New York Federal District Court to facilitate the investigation. The 9/11 Commission Report had asserted that there was “strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaida members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.”
What is clear from the information released in the 9/11 Iran Links case filing was the close cooperation between fundamentalist Sunni (Al Qaeda) and Shia (Iran revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah) jihadist terror groups. We note the presence of Imad Mughniyah, the Hizbullah terror chieftain, assassinated in Damascus in 2008, allegedly by Israel’s Mossad. Mughniyah was involved in the 9/11 planning. Until 9/11 Mughniyah was at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted terrorist list for his involvement in the planning of the 1983 Marine and French paratrooper barracks attacks in Beirut, the killing of a US navy diver Robert Stethem in a 1985 skyjacking of a TWA flight, kidnapping of several westerners in Beirut and the torture and murder of CIA Station chief, William Buckley.
The 9/11 links case filing proves that there is no daylight between the Islamic Jihad doctrine of the Mahdists in Tehran and the Salafists in Al Qaeda when it comes to their terror war against the West, especially America and Israel.
One of the expert witnesses, Kenneth Timmerman, News.Max.com columnist and Iran expert, filed affidavits and has written a riveting synopsis of key findings drawn from the filing can be accessed, here.
As noted by Timmerman, the 9/11 links case filing revealed the following:
In an affidavit filed in the case, former 9/11 Commission staff member Dr. Daniel Byman states that Iran’s assistance to al-Qaida “predated the 9/11 attack and continued after it, and it had profound implications for the 9/11 attack itself.”
Indeed, without Iran’s assistance in facilitating the travel of the 9/11 hijackers to and from Afghanistan, the attack might never have taken place, the lawsuit asserts.
Janice Kephart, another 9/11 Commission staff member who wrote a monograph on the movements of the 9/11 hijackers before the attack, concluded in a separate affidavit that Iran’s assistance to the hijackers “constituted . . . direct support for al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks.”
Secret intelligence reports detailed the travels of about 10 of the hijackers into Iran and back and forth into Afghanistan from October 2000 through February 2001, where they were whisked through border controls without ever getting their passports stamped.
9/11 Commission staff members gained access to the travel manifests of the commercial flights the future hijackers used, and compared passenger lists to a secret registry of terrorist identities. And what they discovered was stunning.
In the word of the 9/11 Commission report, “a senior operative of Hizbullah” was on the flights that convoyed the future hijackers from Saudi Arabia to Tehran. It was none other than Imad Mughniyah, Iran’s top terror operative.
In the legal papers filed in New York in May, 2011, lawyers representing the 9/11 victims weighed the true measure of that revelation for the first time. For Janice Kephart, the revelation that Mughniyah was convoying the future hijackers to Tehran “compels the conclusion that Iran had actual foreknowledge of a major terrorist strike against the United States that was, in fact, the 9/11 attacks.”
“This conclusion flows from the fact that Mughniyah was a known terrorist agent of Iran, and, moreover, was a top-level Hizbullah terrorist commander who had attacked, kidnapped, and killed more Americans than any other terrorist in multiple terrorist attacks over the past three decades, at least some of which were at the direction of Iran,” Kephart states.
As in any saga regarding the pursuit of Islamic terrorism Emirs like bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and Al-Awlaki, the thousands of victims are voiceless. On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, we know more about who was involved, but we know less about what our country’s leaders and counterterrorism agencies will do to prevent the next catastrophe should it inevitably come. We must learn from the deaths of 9/11 victims, some of whom predicted what occurred, that political correctness stands in the way of preventing another attack. We are dealing with fanatically obsessed Islamakazes who went to great lengths to kill tens of thousands of innocents during this decade of Islamic terror. If we have learned something it is that we should never forget what occurred that day in America.
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