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Bin Laden: the former CIA 'client' obsessed with training pilots
The Guardian ^ | 09/13/01 | Giles Foden

Posted on 09/13/2001 5:54:16 AM PDT by MVV

Bin Laden: the former CIA 'client' obsessed with training pilots

Special report: Terrorism in the US

Giles Foden
Thursday September 13, 2001
The Guardian

Stories about him are legion. How he was known as one of the "Gucci muj", the scions of rich Arab families who poured into Afghanistan in the late 1980s to help the rougher-hewn mojahedin fight the Soviets. How, having won his spurs, he led an assault in the siege of Jalalabad and took possession of the "lucky" Kalashnikov which he now carries with him almost everywhere.

But perhaps the most interesting facts about America's public enemy number one (reward: $5m) and his organisation are to be found in the very city where his name is most spoken as the author of Tuesday's atrocity.

From February to July this year, court 318 in the southern district of New York saw the prosecution and conviction of four of those involved in the bombing of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998. An irascible, if witty judge, the Hon Leonard B Sand, presided over a landmark trial of enormous scope.

The transcript ran to millions of words (a number of pages are sealed), and includes many parallels to Tuesday's terrible events - including sophisticated planning, coordination across locations and, above all, the question of negligent security.

At one point, considering a disregard of warnings to American authorities in 1998, Judge Sand prefigured the latest attacks in a chance remark: "By example, if this court receives information that there is an airplane coming at the city of New York, there are 213 innocents aboard and a number of terrorists, and on board is a nuke device, and they're going to crash it into New York, and they're going to kill a million people, do you risk the death of those 213 or is that reckless disregard?"

What was most remarkable about the trial was the way it uncovered the secret workings of al-Qaida, the 5,000-strong terror organisation run by Bin Laden. How the group used videos to brainwash people into doing Osama bin Laden's will. How, typically, it followed political and religious induction with hardcore military training.

No less shocking were the details of America's deep and insidious connection with this man, whose status as an alleged former "client" of the CIA became an issue for the defence.

As Jeremy Schneider, attorney for one defendant, put it in his opening: "And you know what? You know who backed the Arab freedom fighters? United States. United States. We supported the Arab resistance in 1984 in Afghanistan. We, the United States, supported the training in Afghanistan. We gave them guns."


By the time Mr Schneider opened, court artists were already sketching the proceedings inside, jurors and officials were being swept with metal detectors each day and sniffer dogs were patrolling the corridors.

Outside, steel barriers and concrete blocks were in place to prevent rescue or suicide attempts by other members of al-Qaida.

Those accused were of varied Arab and African extraction, and worked at different levels of the organisation. One, Wadih el-Hage, was a 40-year-old moneyman and facilitator based in Texas and Kenya. He has already been confined to jail for life, along with two others, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh and Khalfan Khamis Mohammed.

The fourth man, 24-year-old Saudi Mohammed al'Owhali is due to be sentenced on Wednesday. In the other cases, jurors were unwilling to create martyrs by passing a death sentence. In any event, legal agreements with some of the countries from which the accused men had been extradited would have prevented execution. Al'Owhali drove the truck which carried the Nairobi bomb, jumping out at the last minute. Odeh, a 35-year-old Jordanian, ran a fishing business that provided a front for al-Qaida in Mombasa.

Khalfan Khamis Mohammed, 27, from Zanzibar, was the least educated and most impressionable of the group: he was the son of a peasant farmer on the mainly Muslim Indian Ocean spice island.

The cases for the defence kept returning to three sometimes contradictory issues: the ways in which al-Qaida brainwashed its members into terrible wrongdoing; the supposed fact (actually very debatable, as the statements from Islamic scholars made clear) that they were pursuing an imperative religious duty in committing themselves to jihad; and the balancing of their actions against those of the US in Iraq and elsewhere.

The defence hoped to make American bombing of Iraq an equivalent matter to the crime, in so far as the US also used "a weapon of mass destruction" - the phrase on the terrorists' charge sheet.

The weapons in question were not airliners that time round, but al-Qaida already had the capacity to supply planes and pilots, as made clear by this testimony from a Bin Laden associate, Essam al Ridi, formerly a flight instructor at the Ed Boardman school of aviation in Texas:

Q. And can you tell us how it came about that you became involved in buying an airplane?

A. There was quite a few communications between me and Wadih el-Hage about the interests of Osama acquiring an airplane_

Q. And what did he tell you about the airplane that he wished you to purchase for Osama bin Laden?

A. The price range within $350,000, and that is a range of about a little bit over two thousand miles.

Q. And why did al-Qaida want an aircraft?

A. They have some goods of their own they want to ship from Peshawar to Khartoum.

Q. And first of all, who is "they"?

A. Again, I'm referring to Wadih and Osama.

Q. And did he tell you what the goods were that he wanted to ship from Peshawar to Khartoum?

A. Yes.

Q. What were they?

A. Stinger missiles.

Many al-Qaida trainees saw videos of such missiles and other weaponry daily as part of their training routine. Showing hundreds of hours of Muslims in dire straits - Palestinians on the West Bank, Bosnians being shot by Serbs, Chechens under attack from the Russian army and (most of all) dying Iraqi children - was part of al-Qaida's Ipcress-file style induction strategy.

Another aspect of this was quotation from the Koran, in the context of speeches by Bin Laden himself and his lieutenants, to justify violent actions.

Q. "And he [Bin Laden] would quote from the Koran and try to convince people through those quotes that what al-Qaida was doing and what you were being asked to do was something that a good Muslim would do, right?"

A. "Yes".

The prosecution was quick to show that the Koran is in the main a very peaceable document (at least, no less violent than the Bible). The limits of jihad included not harming the innocent, an imam from Bedford-Stuyvesant, an inner-city area of New York, insisted.

The arguments continued; the defence requested that the jury be bought copies of Teach Yourself Islam, but explication seemed only to breed further confusion.

There was, however, plenty of clear, hard data about terrorist training. As John Anticev, an FBI agent, reported after his interrogation of Mohammed Odeh: "He received military training that was broken up into three segments. The first segment was basic use of firearms, particularly the AK47, and kind of moved up to a belt-fed machine gun.

"The second level, they started learning about topography, map reading, and they got introduced to explosives, particularly C3, C4, and TNT. The third level of training involved more sophisticated weapons, like anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers, mortars, and anti-aircraft weapons."

Bin Laden's own methods and hobbyhorses also came to light, such as his use of an Inmarsat satellite telephone to relay instructions, and his procuring of planes and pilots for al-Qaida use: at one point, ominously, he seems to have been obsessed with this.

L'Houssaine Kherchtou, a former Bin Laden associate turned government witness, told the court how he was asked to take flying lessons:

Q. After you joined al-Qaida, you were asked to take training as a pilot, correct?

A. I joined the al-Qaida in 1991 and I was offered the training to be a pilot in 1993.

Q. As your beliefs progressed as a member of al-Qaida, you came to understand that one purpose of al-Qaida was to kill American nationals abroad, isn't that true?

A. Yes. Correct.

Q. And you became aware of the structure of al-Qaida. You knew, for example, that Osama Bin Laden was the emir or the leader of al-Qaida, correct?

A. Yes.

It was not just information about Bin Laden and al-Qaida that emerged in the trial. The prosecution was obliged to reveal its own techniques: for example, the FBI hard disk seizure procedure in respect of an al-Qaida computer where "invisible" and deleted files were recovered as evidence for the government case.

The sheer scale of Bin Laden's operations also materialised: it had not hitherto been apparent that al-Qaida operatives had been involved in the attacks on US helicopters and marines in Somalia in 1994. Nor that efforts had been made to procure uranium for a nuclear device.


Much more basic weapons also figured in the case: weapons as basic as the knives and "cardboard cutters" - perhaps something like Stanley knives, easily disassembled and hidden - reportedly used by Tuesday's hijackers.

During their pre-trial detention in New York's metropolitan correction centre, two of the accused allegedly attacked a prison officer, Louis Pepe. They first sprayed chilli sauce in his face from plastic containers, then stabbed him in the eye with a plastic comb. If this was the level of savagery to which al-Qaida members could be brought by the one-time "Gucci muj" and US ally, then we must pity all the more those passengers and crew attacked during Tuesday's hijacks.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News

1 posted on 09/13/2001 5:54:16 AM PDT by MVV (
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The arguments used to show how counter productive it was to use Bin Ladin to go after the Soviet Union are surely as valid, as accusing Roosevelt of the samething for using the Soviet Union to go after Hitler's Germany.

We fought two wars with brittian, then they became our friend. The Germans were our fiends when we fought England and England was our fiend when we fought Germany. Russia was our fiend when we fougth Germany. West Germany was our friend against Russian. Ressia was aour enemy when we fought Korea and Vietname. Ben ladin was our friend against Russia when Russia fought Afghanistan.. Now Russia is our friend against Bin Ladin and Afghanistan.

There are only two things certain in all the history of war. The first is that today's ally is tomorrows foe. The second is there is never a shortage of fools.

2 posted on 09/13/2001 6:09:06 AM PDT by Common Tator
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The Guardian - Northern Ireland is a very biased view of Northern Ireland. The story is told from an Irish nationalist standpoint.

There is a sneaking sympathy for Irish republican terrorism.

It seems that some forms of terror are more acceptable than others to the owners of the Guardian.

3 posted on 09/13/2001 6:26:37 AM PDT by Norn Iron
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To: Common Tator
procure uranium for a nuclear device

It's only a matter of time until a small nuclear warhead is detonated in a large American city, probably New York or Washington. That will make the World Trade Center tragedy look like a walk in the park by comparison.

It's time to rebuild our intelligense forces, that have been devestated for since the Carter administration.

4 posted on 09/13/2001 6:44:25 AM PDT by thepainster (
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No less shocking were the details of America's deep and insidious connection with this man, whose status as an alleged former "client" of the CIA became an issue for the defence.

As Jeremy Schneider, attorney for one defendant, put it in his opening: "And you know what? You know who backed the Arab freedom fighters? United States. United States. We supported the Arab resistance in 1984 in Afghanistan. We, the United States, supported the training in Afghanistan. We gave them guns."

More properly, the USG. Many Americans who have bothered to study history know full well that Foreign Entanglements are destructive to the principals of a Constitutional Republic. Such entanglements have sowed the seeds of destruction, to the full gamut of what used to the known as "The American way of Life"...extending to the very nexus of its moral, economic, political, judicial and philosophical fibers.

We turn now in one of two the left or to the right. The third road, liberty, disintegrates before us. It's corrosion began when we no longer remained content to mind our business and work the land*. A declaration of war against an un-identified enemy will only bring martial law, executive orders and domestic confusion. Thanks to public "education" ignorance has bred the fuel to feed hysteria.

* I am an isolationist in the sense of USG involvement in world affairs. On the other hand, trading with foreign nations, trading our productivity for currency, has far greater potential for directing world affairs than can ever be achieved through government diplomacy.

5 posted on 09/13/2001 7:40:28 AM PDT by l0newolf (
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To: l0newolf
[An Phoblacht/Republican News]


No justification for US bombings

By Michael Pierse

On Thursday 20 August a force of 23,000 soldiers, 170 aircraft and 24 warships encroaching the Red and Arabian Seas calculated their strike into the hearts of Afghanistan and Sudan. At precisely 1:30pm (Washington time), roughly 75 cruise missiles struck simultaneously more than 2,500 miles apart. Was this an attack on ``Islamic fundamentalist terrorism'', as the US claimed, or a calculated diversion from Bill Clinton's sexual improprieties? Or - more likely - it was an attack which would have happened no matter about the sex life of the President.

The people of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in which a chemical factory was razed to the ground, seem convinced. This was, in their opinion, an obvious effort to confuse a fickle American populace, so accustomed to the fictitious world of Hollywood screenplay that reality is viewed with apathy and moral indifference.

The chemical plant, Al Shifa Pharmaceuticals, had a staff of 300 and, according to manager Dr Alamaddin Shibli, was fortunate not to have been the site of a large number of human fatalities. The previous night, he claimed, 50 members of the staff had been working late on a special consignment and he had abnormally left the plant early on Thursday.

The factory had produced a wide range of antibiotics and medicines, which the staff claim filled 50% of Sudan's drug requirement. Medicines which were used in the treatment and cure of malaria, rheumatism, tuberculosis, diabetes and several other diseases, which in the `developed' world are easily cured, but in Africa are the direct cause of millions of deaths - needless deaths - were manufactured there.

America would possibly wish to characterise this country as a haven for international ``terrorism'', jam packed with surreptitious guerrillas intent on waging a religious war on all things American. This could not be further from the truth. The internal situation in Sudan is, according to Irish-based charity service Trócaire, ``critical, and is getting worse by the day. The ongoing war and recent drought have caused appalling food shortages, famine and suffering''. A possible two million people are now facing malnutrition, hunger and death. Parents are suffering the indignity of digging through ant hills for seed for their children to eat. It is estimated that 85% of the population have been displaced.

Of course, Sudan is no stranger to the ravages of war. A civil war which has long hampered any progression towards peace and exacerbated the effects of drought and poverty has left the people accustomed to the sound of exploding bombs. The 18 ft long Tomahawk Land-Attack cruise missiles launched by the Americans weigh 1,000 pounds each and fly up to 1,000 miles. At a cost of $1m a piece, it must surely be disillusioning to aid workers that such opulence be used to devastate the country rather than save its people from terrible disaster.

Beleaguered American President Bill Clinton has had a relatively good ending to a fiasco which threatened to have him ousted. Although he had conducted an ``inappropriate relationship'' with Monica Lewinsky, Clinton pointed to the ``important work to do'' and the ``real security matters to face''. To the more cynical observer, the Nairobi bombings in Kenya were a godsend to Clinton's political life. ``Wag the Dog'' came to mind; a recently released American film depicting an American President, confronted with a sex scandal, waging war in Albania. And, to put their metaphorical foot in it, the CIA justified the bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan with the information that the next ``terrorist'' attack would have targeted the American Embassy guessed it, Albania. Since the bombings Clinton's opinion poll ratings have swelled, equalling his previous high, with women being the most supportive.

However, American Republican Congressmen who had originally voiced their Wag the Dog suspicions became supportive after they were given private briefings from the State Department, CIA or Pentagon. They acknowledged that although the bombings had been politically helpful to Clinton, this was unintentional. All weighed in behind Uncle Sam. According to reports, this bombing originated with intelligence which revealed that Afghan guerrillas would be meeting on 20 August in what the US called the ``University of the Holy War'', which was subsequently decimated.

The Sudanese bombing had arisen from American claims that the components manufactured in the Al Shifa plant were used in the manufacture of the deadly chemical weapon, VX gas. The components in themselves are not considered dangerous. But can we believe all the American President says simply because he is unopposed in Congress? Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam were all supported as part of the general American belligence towards the enemy. Sudanese officials have given open invitations for people to view the wrecked factory unhindered. They have asked for the UN to inspect the plant but this is being blocked by the US. Company manager, Almaddin Shibli, spoke confidently of the Sudanese case against the Americans. ``In those bottles are the reagents that will prove what we really produced here - and it wasn't chemical weapons.

The overseeing of police operations in the areas influenced by American forces is also of concern. Forty people, most of Middle Eastern extraction, have been arrested by Kenyan police, some of whom appear to have been interned on suspicion of involvement in the Nairobi bombing plot. Last Thursday police arrested Jamil Hassan Abdi, a Kenyan native. The reported reason for his detainment was that he stayed at the Hilltop Hotel in Nairobi, from 4-7 August, when it is believed the bombing team also stayed there.

On Thursday also a raid in Albania, at Myslym Shyri Street was said by local residents to have been supervised by Americans. Albanian Police Chief, Fatos Khosi described the issue of Islamic fundamentalism as ``a very delicate theme'' in Albania which has a large Muslim population.

Back home in the States there seems to be an element of jingoism emerging from the shattered ruins of Nairobi. Madelene Albright commented this week that ``this is unfortunately the war of the future'' as she contemplated the prospect of further attacks allegedly from Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden.

In Gaza, Beirut, Tripoli and Khartoum chanting faces are lit by burning US flags. In Iran a 20 storey high flag on the side of an office block depicts the stars as skulls and the stripes as trails of blood.

6 posted on 09/13/2001 8:09:04 AM PDT by Norn Iron
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To: l0newolf

Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 11:40 GMT

Focus on US approach to NI

President Bush met politicians at the White House

President Bush met politicians at the White House

Gerry Adams (centre), Ireland's Bin Laden in the company of George Bush and Bertie Ahern.

Sadly, Bush appeared to have taken over where Clinton left off. Maybe he has a different view now.

7 posted on 09/15/2001 6:32:42 AM PDT by Norn Iron
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To: MVV; snopercod; harpseal; Squantos; Travis McGee; M Kehoe; Eaker; joanie-f
With malice and detailed planning aforethought --- known by the U.S. Government.
8 posted on 08/02/2002 1:22:51 PM PDT by First_Salute
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