Skip to comments.McCollum says terror ignored (by Clinton)
Posted on 11/29/2003 5:49:28 PM PST by pittsburgh gop guy
McCollum says terror ignored
By Sam Dealey
The former chairman of a congressional task force on terrorism accuses the Clinton administration of repeatedly ignoring detailed warnings of terrorist threats against the United States issued nearly a decade ago.
It was pretty clear during the Clinton era that they heard our reports but just didnt care, said former Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.).
McCollum founded and chaired the Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare from 1989 to 1995. The panel produced a number of sensitive reports that were selectively distributed within the congressional leadership and intelligence community. He is now seeking the Republican Senate nomination in a highly contested primary campaign.
At The Hills request, McCollum released several of these reports. Although unclassified, many of them have never before been revealed. They identify the threat of global terrorism well before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Culled from open sources, such as Middle Eastern radio and newspaper reports, and from the network of informants the task force nurtured, the reports describe the anti-Western goals of radical Islam around the globe.
On Feb 1, 1993, for example, a report noted a recent spate of seemingly unconnected terrorist acts in the Middle East. Despite the different circumstances of these incidents, they do not appear to be isolated events, it concluded. Rather, they are the first incidents in the escalation of an Islamist Jihad against the Judeo-Christian world order. Thus, the climax of this struggle could well be an increase in terrorism throughout the West.
Less than a month later, on Feb. 26, the World Trade Center was first bombed.
The same report identified key players in an increasingly interconnected terror network who would subsequently become public enemies in Americas national security efforts.
Among them was fundamentalist Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, head of the terrorist Islamic Group. The blind Egyptian cleric was convicted for plotting the initial World Trade Center attack.
Another prominent leader was Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Ladens and Al Qaedas. Zawahiri was indicted for his alleged involvement in the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and is listed on the FBIs Most Wanted Terrorists list. In task force reports, the Sudanese is listed as a principal organizer who brought the disparate terrorist groups together into an umbrella jihad structure.
Most importantly, McCollums task force repeatedly warned the Clinton administration of the spread of terrorism from Iranian Shiite groups to those of Sunni Muslims, and their collaboration in plotting attacks against the West. The panel prepared a comprehensive list, ranging from Middle East to Asia to the Horn of Africa.
While much of this is now considered conventional wisdom, the task forces conclusions were not widely viewed that way at the time. The U.S. intelligence community generally saw the terrorism threat in terms of isolated acts that were confined to regional players.
McCollum was way ahead of the curve, said anti-terrorism expert Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project. By and large, there was no recognition or effort to look at this problem in the global sense or the interconnectedness among these groups.
Emerson, like McCollum, was among the handful of outsiders who cautioned the government early on about terrorist threats. Their warnings, they say, were largely viewed as those of gadflies and partisans.
I dont know if it was pride or if it was the sense that we were the upstart outsider, or that we were viewed as partisans, or what, said McCollum. I imagine they looked down on us . I imagine we were viewed as a rogue outfit producing this.
It was frustrating, McCollum continued. We didnt feel that people were paying attention. A lot of them were of the thinking that none of this would ever amount to much and that it certainly didnt pose a threat to America.
They couldnt care less. There were people within the intelligence communities who were alarmed, but not institutionally, said Yossef Bodansky, a former staffer for the task force and recent author of a bin Laden biography. Neither us nor they could make enough nose to attract the attention of the White House.
While the task forces work spanned both the elder Bush and Clinton administrations, McCollum saved his harshest criticism for the latter period.
I think it became increasingly frustrating under Clinton because some of these things were compounding and becoming ever more obvious, McCollum said. It became pretty clear during the Clinton era that they heard our stuff but they just didnt care.
They didnt want to know before the World Trade Center; they didnt want to know after the World Trade Center, said Bodansky. They were just simplistic; they just didnt want to know that the problem existed. Terrorism didnt exist, and all the problems didnt exist. It was just an ostrich attitude.
Elected to the House in 1980, McCollum early on took an active interest in supporting anti-Communist movements. Based on his humanitarian work for El Salvador, in 1985 the U.S. Agency for International Development requested that he develop an aid program for Pakistan. In doing so, McCollum cultivated a network of key players in the mujahadin resistance who passed on reports of coordination among anti-Western elements in the region. In 1989, he created and chaired the terrorism task force, relinquishing that post when he was named to the House intelligence committee in 1995.
In 2000, McCollum ran for the Senate, losing to Bill Nelson (D).
While McCollums task force repeatedly warned that a radical Islamic revivalism threatened the West, it also unearthed other key developments in the Middle East.
McCollum himself warned intelligence officials of the rise of bin Ladens, then a side-player and financier to the united terrorist groups.
In mid-1990, the task force warned of the growing threat of chemical weapons in the Third World, noting especially stockpiles in Libya and Iraq. Saddam Hussein would later deploy chemical attacks to quell ethnic uprisings.
In June 1991, the intelligence community was warned of Irans quest for nuclear weapons. In 1992 and 1993, the task force exposed the illegal trade in nuclear materials from former Soviet states to the Middle East.
In the Senate race to this day, said McCollum, there are people who come up and say, Youre the guy who was chairman of the task force on terrorism. Granted, theyre comparatively few, but we did have an impact.
I just can't wait to see this on all the Sunday morning shows!
I just can't wait to see this.
I just can't wait.
Paging...Dan Blather...Yo, skippy - over here.
The most comprehensive and frightening treatment of Islam as a potential enemy of the United States is found in the work of Yossef Bodansky, former technical editor of Israeli Air Force magazine. Bodansky was staff director of the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, chaired by Rep. Bill McCollum of Florida. The report of the task force [possible text?] viewed Islam as the successor to communism, aiming to "topple the Judaeo-Christian new world order." Bodansky, whom according to McCollum, was the author of this report, wrote a paperback book on the same subject after the World Trade Center bombing of February 1993. The theme of the book is suggested into the author's preface: "Islamic terrorism has embarked on a Holy War, Jihad, against the West, especially the United States, which is being waged primarily through international terrorism."
--Circles of Antognism [against Islam]: Popular Culture
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.