Crime Scene - World Trade Center
By J. R. de Szigethy
THE FIRST CRIME SCENE: OCTOBER 4, 1990
On this date a man was found murdered in the parking lot underneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center. This was the first murder to take place at the Trade Center since the Towers were completed in 1973. The New York Post reported that the dead man had been shot three times as he was approaching his Cadillac and then thrown into the front seat of his car. The fact that the man weighed 350 pounds suggested the murderer had at least one accomplice. A statement by a garage attendant suggested the murder victim had lain in his car for 3 days before being discovered.
This murder betrayed a shocking gap in the Security in place at the World Trade Center; no video camera surveillance photos existed to document who was responsible for this outrageous crime committed in a public place, and no eyewitnesses or ‘ear witnesses’ could be located. Although this crime was eventually solved - the murder victim was a member of the Gambino Mafia Family and John Gotti was convicted for ordering this murder - this event should have been sufficient to prove that Security measures at the Trade Center needed to be drastically improved. It should have been self-evident to Trade Center authorities that if a car could be parked for 3 days unexamined in a Trade Center parking lot with a dead body inside, such a vehicle could just as easily be left behind that contained a bomb. These lessons were not learned.
THE SECOND CRIME SCENE: FEBRUARY 26, 1993
On this date six people were murdered in the parking lot underneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center. On this occasion, a van rented from Ryder Trucks was left in an unauthorized parking zone that went unexamined by Port Authority employees before the bomb inside exploded shortly after noon.
The bomb tore a gaping hole through three floors of the sub-level parking lot, sending acrid smoke billowing up the ventilation systems of the North Tower. This required the evacuation of thousands of the building’s occupants, including those who were trapped inside elevators that stalled once the explosion disrupted the Tower’s electrical systems. Some occupants high in the Tower, desperate for fresh air to breathe, broke the windows of the building, waving handkerchiefs of despair as they risked plummeting hundreds of feet to their deaths. The cold Winter air blowing into the towers from the North only added to the upward-spiraling effect of smoke being lifted from the scene of the blast to each successive floor above.
As thousands of panicked victims fought their way down the smoke-filled stairs arranged around the core of the building, they were met - and aided - by hundreds of members of the New York City Fire Department, Police Department, Port Authority Police, and paramedics, all racing up the stairs. This event was the largest-scale search and rescue operation any city in America had ever faced. In retrospect, it is amazing that no one else died that day; no one fell, jumped, or was pushed from the windows; no one died of smoke inhalation; no one suffered a fatal stress-induced heart attack or stroke. Still, in addition to the 6 people killed by the bomb, 1000 people were injured.
As in the case of the first Crime Scene, the murders that occurred on this date were the result of a plot by members of an organized crime syndicate involved in drug trafficking. This crime scene would soon be determined to be the result of an Islamic terrorist organization that had been operating openly in the New York City area for several years. Members of law enforcement and the Media would soon determine that not only could this terrorist attack have been prevented, but that the lessons that should have been learned from this event - our vulnerability to terrorist attacks, were not being heeded. As the 1990s progressed, members of law enforcement and the Media, investigating traditional Mafia operations, would also come across the Islamic terrorists operating amongst us. The warning call would be given out by these brave men and women, some of whom literally begged the U. S. government to address the growing threat of Islamic terrorism in America.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ISLAM AND THE WESTERN WORLD
The history of Islam since it’s founding in the Seventh Century is the history of ‘two Islams;’ while the majority of those who have practiced Islam throughout the centuries have done so without harming others, History recalls the carnage of the violence committed by a minority of practitioners against fellow members of the faith as well as against those who practice other religions.
John F. Murphy Jr.‘s ‘Sword of Islam’ reveals that a secret society of Shi-ite Muslims called "The Assassins" was formed in the Eleventh Century, whose aim was to assassinate rival Sunni Muslim leaders. This terror group operated under a strict ‘Code of Silence’ similar to the Mafia’s ‘omerta’ and was also known by the term ‘Hashishin,’ a reference to the group’s trafficking of drugs, primarily Hashish. This group was the first of what would become known as ‘narco-terrorists,’ a terrorist organization that finances it’s operations through the distribution of drugs.
Besides members of the "Assassins," some religious leaders in Islam have exercised their claim to have the authority to issue a ‘fatwa,’ an edict that requires followers to assassinate a targeted person. A history of Islam at the website of the University of Southern California lists 39 historically significant assassinations of Islamic leaders by fellow Muslims during the years 814-1965.
This same history reveals the armed conflict that has existed over the centuries between Islamic armies and those of Western Europe. For the first five Centuries after it’s founding, Islamic armies invaded throughout the Middle East, India, Northern Africa, Spain and France. In 1095 began the first of many "Crusades" led by armies from Christian countries who sought to remove Islamic armies from Europe and the Middle East. The 1200s and 1300s saw the rise of the Ottoman Turks, with continued bloody battles between themselves and the Christian coalition forces. Islam during this time spread into parts of Russia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Iran. In the 1500s Islamic armies invaded Hungary, Java, and Borneo. In Spain during this time, the infamous "Spanish Inquisition" was led by the Catholic Church, bringing about the end of Islamic domination of that country.
In the 1700s the Turks were driven out of Austria and Hungary while Islam gained control over Afghanistan. In the 1800s French armies captured Algeria after three centuries of Turkish rule. Also during this time the British army ended 1000 years of Islamic rule in India. The Berlin Treaty of 1879 resulted in Turkey losing 4/5th of it’s occupied territory in Europe. During this time France invaded Tunisia and England occupied Egypt.
As a result of World War I, Syria fell under French rule and in 1928 the government of Turkey renounced Islam as a State religion, becoming instead a Secular State. Turkey has, since this event, while protecting the rights of it’s citizens to practice the Islamic Faith, become an ally of the United States and a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
During the 1930s, the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, granted independence to the nation of Iraq. Also during this time, European Jews began to immigrate to Palestine, leading to increasingly violent incidents between Palestinians and Jews. As a result of the Holocaust during World War II, a massive immigration of Jews to Palestine led to the war that established the State of Israel in 1948.
It was during this same time period that the Nation of Islam emerged among African-American communities in the United States. Malcolm X was among the leaders of this movement until his assassination by members of this sect in 1965.
Also during this time young Iranian Communists founded the MEK, short for Mujahedin e-Qualk, whose purpose was to overthrow the Shah of Iran, a strong ally of the United States. As the 1970s progressed this Secular movement grew in strength, as did an Islamic Fundamentalist movement headed by the exiled cleric Ayatollah Khomeini. When the Shah fled Iran in 1979 supporters of the Ayatollah, along with members of the MEK, seized the United States Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. This event, preceded by the terrorist attacks against Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, marked the beginnings of a new era of Islamic terrorism in the modern age.
THE SOVIETS FIGHT BACK
One of the tenants of the now-discredited Communist doctrine was the establishment of an official State position on religion, in this case the philosophy of Atheism, which the Communists viewed as "rational thought." To these Communists, the ultimate "non-rational" behavior was that exhibited by the Islamic Fundamentalists, some of whom preached the doctrine that Eternal Life could best be achieved by murdering ‘non-Believers,’ even if it meant committing suicide in the process. Fearing that Islamic Fundamentalists would take over in neighboring Afghanistan as they had in Iran, the Soviet Union invaded that country in 1979.
Meanwhile, in Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini began to consolidate his power; opponents were murdered, books were burned, and the Ayatollah began to issue ‘fatwas’ against his perceived enemies. Once Khomeini no longer needed the support of the ‘non-Believers’ of the MEK, these warriors had to flee to neighboring Iraq, where they gained the support of Stalinist Dictator Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi government at that time was already providing support to other terrorist organizations, including the band put together by Abu Nidal, who would later become infamous for his role in the 1985 terrorist attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, during which wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, an American, was brutally murdered.
Members of the MEK fought alongside the Iraqi Army in the war against Iran that was waged from 1980 to 1989. One million people were killed during this war, and Iraq was saddled with a $14 billion debt to oil-rich neighbor Kuwait, a debt which was a significant incentive for Iraq to invade Kuwait a few years later. In Afghanistan during that time the United States waged a covert war against the Soviets, providing support to Islamic warriors determined to bring Islamic Fundamentalism to that country. In what became ‘Russia’s VietNam,’ the Soviet Army was eventually forced to withdraw and Afghanistan came under the rule of the "Taliban," who set up a brutal Islamic Fundamentalist regime similar to the "Islamic Republic" set up in Iran.
During the 1980s terrorist regimes such as Iran and Libya came into conflict with the United States. In 1986, the U. S. military led a strike against Weapons of Mass Destruction targets inside Libya, which resulted in the death of an adopted daughter of Libyan Dictator Muamar Qadafy. On July 3, 1988, the U. S. Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner filled with 290 Muslims making a pilgrimage to their holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Both Iran and Libya vowed revenge against the United States over these incidents. On December 23, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, including 35 Syracuse University college students, as well as three CIA officials who were fighting Islamic terrorists in Lebanon. At first, U. S. officials believed Iran was responsible for this terrorist bombing, as revenge for the downing of their airliner by the United States.
Eventually, it would be proven that Libya was behind this bombing. Curiously, the Libyans accused in this terrorist act had received flight training at a Federal facility in the State of Oklahoma, according to a Time Magazine report, a point of information that would become more intriguing in the course of events of years to come. The act of revenge taken by Iran would later be exposed by an FBI investigation into the Colombo Mafia Family in New York. This case would become just one of many investigations of organized crime during the 1990s that intersected those of Islamic terrorists, who by this time had been quietly infiltrating the United States.
In Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, and Kansas City, cells were set up by associates of Hamas. In Cleveland and Raleigh, North Carolina, cells of supporters of Islamic Jihad were established. In St. Louis, a cell was formed by Palestinians loyal to Abu Nidal. In Chicago, a gang of African-American and Hispanic drug dealers, calling themselves the "El Rukns" received support from Libyan agents. In Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boston, cells associated with Al Qaeda, were set up. In New York City, cells were established by veterans of the Afghan war.(1)
One of these veterans was an Egyptian, Mustafa Shalabi, who had fought against the Soviets with legendary courage. Shalabi set up business at the Al Farouk Mosque on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where he raised funds to support the covert war against the Soviets. After the war was over, Shalabi sponsored a blind cleric, Sheik Omar Abdel Rachman, to come to America. Shalabi set up the Sheik in the Mosque in Brooklyn but the two soon had a falling out regarding the Sheik’s desire to raise funds to overthrow the government of Egypt, which had made peace with Israel. The blind Sheik was among many Islamic Fundamentalists who were placed on trial for their role in the conspiracy to assassinate Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The Sheik was acquitted for his role in this plot.
After his falling-out with Shalabi, the blind Sheik then fled to Newark, New Jersey, taking his followers with him, including his driver, Mahmud Abouhalima. There the Sheik set up a devoted following at a new Mosque and began new plots to commit murder. Also, the Sheik began to issue "Fatwas." Two people that were marked for death by the Sheik were Mustafa Shalabi and Rabbi Meire Khahane, a militant defender of the State of Israel who had his own following in New York. Rabbi Khahane was murdered at a New York hotel on November 15, 1990 by El Sayyid Nosair. Driving the planned getaway car was Abouhalima, who botched his role in the murder. In March, 1991, Mustafa Shalabi was murdered in his secure residence in Seagate, Brooklyn. Shalabi’s murder has not been solved. In the case of Nosair, he was put on trial but incredibly acquitted of the Rabbi’s murder. Osama bin Laden contributed thousands of dollars to Nosair’s legal defense team, headed by radical criminal attorney William Kunstler.
After Nosair’s arrest authorities found in one of his residences materials on bomb making and intelligence on New York landmarks. Incredibly, the FBI failed to pursue this clear evidence of terrorist plots.
FBI vs. FBI
One law enforcement figure who sensed the growing danger of Islamic Fundamentalists was FBI agent Nancy Floyd. Floyd was one of many members of America’s law enforcement community who tried valiantly to curb this threat, only to be retaliated against by superiors within the FBI. Agent Floyd’s plight is documented in the best-seller ‘1000 Years for Revenge,’ by acclaimed investigative reporter Peter Lance. Lance reveals that agent Floyd secured one of the most important recruitments of our time of a man willing to be an FBI Informant; Emad Salem, a former Major in the Egyptian Army who had extensive contacts in the Muslim communities of New York City. Salem was recruited in 1991 and offered a window into the dangerous radicals associated with Sheik Abdel-Rachman. Salem’s evidence, gained at great risk to his life, disclosed that associates of the blind Sheik were involved in plots to bomb New York landmarks. Floyd’s superiors in the FBI eventually refused to follow the evidence and dropped Salem as an Informant, while taking actions that appeared retaliatory against agent Floyd. The beleaguered agent was investigated for over five years by the Justice Department on outrageous charges of misconduct, much of which was totally unsubstantiated. In the end, agent Floyd was given a two-week suspension for being "insubordinate" to a superior.
Had the FBI not dropped Salem the first time as an Informant their investigation should have led straight to all of the bomb plotters, including the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef, an associate of Osama bin Laden who had ties to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. Yousef arrived in New York City in 1992 at Kennedy airport. Traveling on a suspect Iraqi passport, Yousef was detained but because, as usual, the INS did not have enough space in it’s detention center to hold him, he was released upon the streets of America. Yousef would then assemble the bomb that was used at the second Crime Scene at the World Trade Center and easily slipped out of the country after this terrorist attack.
After the bombing, the FBI had no choice but to literally beg Emad Salem to return to work as an FBI Informant. This time around, he was offered over $1 million and the entrance into the Witness Protection Program. Salem then uncovered more evidence that proved the blind Sheik and his followers were responsible for the Trade Center bombing and were also preparing bombings at several other New York landmarks.
Another FBI agent who was retaliated against in regards to this story was Jim Fox, the former Director of the FBI Office in New York City. Two weeks before his retirement from the Bureau, Fox was Suspended in December, 1994, allegedly for comments he made to the Media about the World Trade Center bombing. The New York Post would later report that the suspension was also the result of personal bad blood between Fox and Louis Freeh, then the new FBI Director. Renown investigative reporter Gerald Posner would report in his book ‘Why America Slept’ that the suspension was also in retaliation for Fox’s expressed views that Iraq had ties to the bombing. In addition to Fox’s suspension, FBI Director Louis Freeh would later be widely criticized for giving promotions to agents responsible for what occurred at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
Yet another FBI agent to stumble upon the growing threat of domestic terrorism was Lawrence Reinfeld, who, in the late 1980s, having just retired from the agency, was hired as an investigator for the A. C. Nielsen company, one of America’s largest firms that redeem grocery store coupons. Reinfeld, along with his associate Ben Jacobson, a former NYPD Detective, discovered that in major cities across America cells of Islamic terrorists were raising as much as $100 million dollars a year through a lucrative and simple scam involving coupon fraud.
This is how coupon fraud works: every day, millions of Americans shop for groceries which they discount by redeeming a coupon on items such as soap, breakfast cereal, and candy bars. The grocery store then redeems the coupons with clearing houses and receives a monthly check as reimbursement. This industry is a $8 billion a year operation, in which manufacturers print and distribute coupons in an effort to entice consumers to try their product. The costs of these coupons are passed on to the consumer through higher prices on just about all goods offered for sale in grocery stores.
What Jacobson and Reinfeld discovered was that Islamic terrorists across America were opening small grocery stores and redeeming in them tens of thousands of coupons stolen from distributors. Incredibly, when the two former law enforcement officers tried to convince America’s law enforcement community to investigate their findings, they were rebuked.
In July, 1996 Al Guart of the New York Post ran a story, "U. S. Coupon Scams Tied to Terror Fund," which detailed how the first bombing of the World Trade Center was funded by terrorists in America engaged in coupon fraud. Guart relayed the evidence that coupon fraud was being committed on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Army, the Iraq-based Abu Nidal terrorist organization, and associates of blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rachman. One such front for the coupon fraud was a store in Brooklyn through which Lebanese immigrant Radwan Ayoub and Egyptian-born Mahmud Abouhalima operated.
Contemporary with these events were the journeys of reporters Steven Emerson and Ellen Harris. In December, 1992, Emerson, then an investigative reporter for CNN, crossed paths of a group of militant Islamists in what might to some be considered a most unlikely place; Oklahoma City. From that startling beginning, Emerson has gone on to become one of the most authoritative experts on the subject of terrorism in the world. Emerson first detailed that cells of Islamic terrorists were operating in American cities large and small in the PBS documentary "Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America," which first aired in 1994. Since that time, Emerson has devoted most of his efforts as Executive Director of The Investigative Project, regarded as the most comprehensive repository worldwide of intelligence and information on Islamic terrorist organizations.
In 1989, an event occurred that shocked and stunned the residents of St. Louis, Missouri, the city that heralds itself as the "Gateway to the West." In her book "Guarding the Secrets," Ellen Harris would reveal how on the morning of November 6, 1989, an FBI agent learned of the death of a 16 year old Palestinian girl, Tina Isa. The FBI agent in question knew that the Isa apartment was bugged, given that the father of the young girl was involved in a coupon fraud scheme that was raising funds for the Islamic terrorist Abu Nidal. The agent also knew that whatever transpired in that apartment would be captured on an FBI tape. When examined, the tape revealed that Tina’s father had confronted her the night of her death, angry that she had defied Islamic tradition by applying for a part-time job at a Wendy’s fast food restaurant without his consent.
Tina’s father’s voice is clear on the FBI tape: "Listen, my dear daughter: tonight, you’re going to die!" Eight minutes of the tape reveal Tina’s screams as her mother holds her down while her father repeatedly stabs her in her heart with a butcher knife.
The brutal murder of Tina Isa forced the FBI to admit that cells of Islamic terrorists were in place in numerous communities in the United States, and that the FBI was aware of this and was monitoring their activities. The father and mother of Tina Isa were convicted of her murder and both received the Death Penalty. This was not the end of the story.
On April 1, 1993, Zein Isa was indicted by the Feds on charges he participated in a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Indicted along with Isa were co-conspirators Tawfiq Musa, Saij Nijmeh, and Luie Nijmeh. The indictment marked the first time that members of a terrorist organization, in this case the Abu Nidal Organization, were indicted in the United States for plotting terrorist attacks within our borders. The four men were charged under RICO statutes, usually utilized in prosecuting members of the Mafia. The RICO statutes provide substantial prison sentences and each man faced Life in Prison if convicted of all charges.
Incredibly, the charges against Zein Isa were dropped and his 3 co-conspirators accepted a plea bargain of 21 months which resulted in their immediate release. Jewish leaders worldwide were outraged over this slap on the wrist of terrorists and some predicted that the message this sent to terrorists operating within America would lead to more such terrorist plots. They, among others, would be proven right.
During this time, Ramzi Yousef was developing his skills in terror and murder. In December, 1994 Yousef boarded PAL Flight 434 in the Philippines, upon which he improvised a crude bomb based on a vial of nitroglycerin, with the detonator being a Casio watch timer. The bomb later exploded en route to Japan, killing one passenger but failing to explode the nearby center fuel tank as Yousef had planned.
On April 19, 1995 a terrorist bomb exploded outside the Federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Authorities would soon charge Army veterans Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols with this event. Both men were said to be avenging the slaughter of men, women, and children by Federal agents on that same date two years earlier at the headquarters of a religious cult in Waco, Texas. At first, authorities assumed that Islamic terrorists were involved in the bombing, one reason being the fact that Oklahoma City was the home to scores of Islamic terrorists dating back many years. The FBI would eventually conclude that McVeigh and Nichols acted alone in this plot.
This conclusion may have been premature. Where exactly the money came from for impoverished Terry Nichols to make the four expensive trips he took to the Philippines in the months prior to the Oklahoma City bombing has never been solved. Nichols was in fact in Manila during the same time that Ramzi Yousef was there in residence, developing his ever-sophisticated bombing plots. According to ‘Seeds of Terror’ by CNN’s Maria A. Ressa, an Islamic terrorist associate named Edwin Angeles claimed that Nichols and Yousef had in fact collaborated during Nichols’ trips to Manila. The possibility to adequately interrogate Angeles regarding his claims ended on January 15, 1999, when Angeles was murdered by Muslim assassins.
THE COLOMBO FAMILY WAR
In the early 1990s an internal war erupted within the Colombo Mafia Family in Brooklyn. Before the war was over at least 11 people were dead, including an innocent bystander. Also, by the time the war had run it’s course, information would be revealed to the public about a deadly threat to America by Islamic terrorists. The Colombo War crimes were investigated by the Joint NYPD-FBI Organized Crime Task Force. Three Federal trials that resulted from this investigation would be de-railed because of the FBI’s improper relationship with Greg Scarpa, a drug dealer and hitman for the Colombo Family who had been protected for decades by the FBI because of his status as an FBI Informant.
The first troubled Colombo war trial began in June 1994. Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico was acquitted of charges he instigated the war - from prison - after Greg Scarpa, on his deathbed due to AIDS, issued a sworn Affidavit that exonerated him.
In the second Colombo War Trial, William "Wild Bill" Cutolo and 6 members of his crew faced racketeering murder charges. "Big Sal" Miciotta testified under cross examination that while ‘protected’ as an FBI Informant he continued his loan sharking and extortion rackets, as well as trafficking drugs. The defendants in the case claimed they were only acting in self-defense against a renegade FBI informant/Mafia hitman, Greg Scarpa. Cutolo and the members of his crew were acquitted.
The New York Times then joined the chorus of those questioning the relationship between Scarpa and the FBI. The Times noted that during his 35-year life of crime and 10 arrests Scarpa had spent only a total of 30 days in jail.
In May, 1995 the Third Colombo War trial began. Vic and John Orena, steel company executive Thomas Petrizzo, and four associates faced murder conspiracy charges. In her opening arguments Assistant U. S. Attorney Ellen Corcella admitted to the jury that FBI agent de Vecchio had an unusual relationship with drug dealer Greg Scarpa and leaked confidential information to him. Defense attorneys argued that their clients were only acting in self-defense against a renegade FBI agent and his Mafia hitman protector. FBI agent Howard Leadbetter testified that he and agents Chris Favo and Jeffrey Tomlinson reported to their superiors that de Vecchio had tried to obstruct a probe of Scarpa. Favo told the Court that he was convinced de Vecchio had committed crimes by leaking information to Scarpa.
Despite this evidence, De Vecchio was not charged with leaking information to the Mafia. Instead, De Vecchio’s subordinate on the Task Force, NYPD Detective Joe Simone, was indicted on those charges. It took the jury in his case just two hours to agree that Simone was not the Mob’s source of information on the Task Force.
While the Orena trial was in progress, The New York Daily News reported that when Colombo gangster Carmine Imbriale agreed to co-operate with the Feds, de Vecchio had allegedly tipped off Scarpa as to this. Imbriale was then murdered.
The jurors in the Orena trial acquitted all defendants on all charges and demanded of the Prosecutors why it was de Vecchio had not been indicted. "They all believed there was a cover-up, and many jurors wondered how come de Vecchio wasn’t indicted," defense attorney James La Rossa told reporters. Defense attorney Jerry Shargel told the New York Post: "The jurors were all just absolutely shocked by the testimony about the relationship between de Vecchio and Scarpa!" "The evidence against de Vecchio was far stronger than the evidence against the defendants on trial!" Juror #186 told the New York Daily News, "Something like this really knocks the credibility of the FBI!" Juror Nancy Wenz stated: "If the FBI’s like this, Society is really in trouble!"
On May 15, 1996 the New York Post stunned readers with the revelation that agent de Vecchio still had access to classified documents, despite the Court testimony of his own agents that he had given secret information to the Mob. The information became public as part of attorney Gerald Shargel’s efforts to win a new trial for Victor Orena, Sr., the jailed former head of the Colombo Family. When at last Shargel got his chance to cross-examine de Vecchio during the Appeal hearing, de Vecchio repeatedly invoked his right under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
In February 1997 de Vecchio again testified in a hearing for a new trial for Orena, but this time under a grant of Immunity, which required him to answer all questions. While being questioned by Defense attorneys, de Vecchio responded dozens of times with the answer, "I don’t recall!" At the beginning of the hearing, the New York Post ran a shocking story regarding how de Vecchio was caught illegally trafficking guns in the State of Maryland back in 1975. When questioned about this transaction, de Vecchio claimed at the Orena hearing that he did not know that his transporting guns across State lines and selling them without a license was illegal. The FBI and authorities in Maryland decided at the time not to prosecute de Vecchio, who had in his personnel file glowing reports about his performance signed by the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
In June, 1995 Greg Scarpa Jr. assaulted Luchese Family Godfather Vittorio Amuso at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, after Amuso had chided him over his father having been an FBI Informant. Despite Amuso’s incarceration, he still maintains his position as head of the Luchese Family and a seat on the Mob’s governing body "The Commission." As such, all five New York Mafia families put out contracts on the life of young Scarpa, the Daily News reported.
To keep him alive, the government transferred Scarpa to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he would face additional charges of murder and racketeering. Scarpa was placed in a cell adjacent to Ramzi Yousef, who was being held while awaiting trial for being the mastermind in the bombing of the World Trade Center. Scarpa would later claim at his trial that he was recruited by the FBI to spy on Ramzi Yousef, photographing diagrams Yousef showed to him with a secret, miniature camera. Scarpa would also claim he told the FBI about a terrorist plot he learned of from Yousef against a Prosecutor and Federal Judge. Such behavior described by Scarpa on Yousef’s part appears credible, as Yousef openly admitted in Court: "I am a terrorist!"
Unlike his father, Scarpa did not appear to receive any break from the government in regards to his spying on Yousef. Scarpa would later claim that FBI agent Lindley de Vecchio participated with his father in setting up members of the Colombo family for a murder that Scarpa himself actually committed.
The government at that time was very concerned about the World Trade Center case, the Oklahoma bombing case, and others, because of a courageous whistleblower named Frederic Whitehurst, a Chemist in the legendary FBI laboratory in Washington. Whitehurst had stunned America by claiming that officials in the FBI lab routinely fabricated evidence and presented false testimony in Court in order to obtain convictions. Almost predictably, the FBI retaliated against Whitehurst, suspending him from duty and forcing him to see a psychiatrist, part of an aggressive campaign to destroy Whitehurst’s credibility. Whitehurst fought back, suing the FBI. Eventually, Whitehurst won, was re-instated and was paid over $1million in reparations, in addition to over $250,000 in legal fees.
Many of Whitehurst’s allegations were substantiated by an investigation by the Inspector General’s office of the Justice Department. As revealed in ‘Tainting Evidence’ by John F. Kelly and Phillip K. Wearne, many of the most infamous trials of the 1990s were potentially compromised by fabricated evidence, altered reports, and false testimony presented by employees of the FBI laboratory.
THE PLOT TO DESTROY NEW YORK
On February 18, 1996, the New York Daily News stunned America with a sensational story of a plot by Iranians to detonate a conventional bomb above New York containing nuclear waste, an event that would render a large part of Manhattan and surrounding areas un-inhabitable for decades. This "dirty bomb" plot appeared to be the revenge authorities long expected from Iran after the 1988 accidental shooting down of an Iranian airbus by the United States Navy.
The Daily News got the story from Colombo Family money launderer Dennis Pappas, who said he was approached by Counter-Terrorist agents of the FBI who asked him to plant bugs in a building owned by Iranians involved in the plot that Pappas had access to. Pappas claimed he agreed to help the FBI, then later backed out of the plan, fearing the Iranians would harm his family. In addition to this ‘dirty bomb’ plot, the Iranian government has pursued a conventional nuclear weapons program, the progress of which is of a growing concern for the United States and our allies.
THE BOSTON AND CHICAGO GOVERNMENT SCANDALS
During the 1990s, events similar to those that de-railed the Colombo Family War trials were simultaneously occurring in Boston and Chicago. The Chicago cases involved Federal prosecutions of dozens of members of the violent gang "El Rukns," which is Arabic for "The Foundation." Members of this ‘narco-terrorist’ gang had traveled to Libya, where they joined in a conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism within the United States in exchange for funding from the government of Libyan Dictator Muamar Khadafy. In 1987, 5 members of this gang, including it’s then-leader Jeff Forte received sentences of nine to eighty years in prison for conspiring with Libya to blow up airplanes and buildings within the United States in exchange for cash. Other trials of el Rukns’ members followed, which resulted in additional convictions against numerous gang members.
However, in 1994 investigative reporter Jeffrey Toobin reported in The New Yorker on the scandal in Chicago that resulted in several of the El Rukns convictions being overturned because the Feds involved in their convictions had violated numerous laws. Among the charges were that agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, as well as Prosecutors in the U. S. Attorney’s Office, had provided Prosecution witnesses with "sex and drug parties" held within the offices of the Federal Prosecutors. No actions were taken by the government against the accused Federal employees.
The case in Boston was also troubling. During the 1980s and 1990s the "Winter Hill Gang," an organized crime syndicate in Boston made up primarily of Irish and Italian thugs, ruled over the city. Led by "Whitey" Bulger, many of the members, like Bulger, were pedophiles, preying mostly on teenage girls, although in some cases, such as Bulger, young boys as well. Bulger’s top aides were Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi and "Cadillac Frank" Salemme. This gang made millions of dollars during this time through the trafficking of drugs and guns. The Boston Herald would report that teenage girls were recruited to provide sexual favors for the gang, with some of these sect acts being secretly videotaped.
Flemmi’s sexual conquests included two teenagers he would eventually murder once they grew too "old" for him after leaving their teens; Deborah Davis, and Deborah Hussey. Hussey was Flemmi’s step-daughter whom Flemmi first raped when she was 14 years old.
The Winter Hill gang was protected for many years by FBI agents, including Paul Rico, who had recruited Flemmi as an FBI Informant, and agent John Connolly, who handled Whitey Bulger. Rationale for this arrangement was Bulger’s and Flemmi’s role in assisting the FBI in targeting members of the Patriarca Family, Boston’s Italian Mafia syndicate.
Thus, FBI agents facilitated Bulger and his associates in pedophilia, the production and distribution of child pornography, drug trafficking, gambling, and murder. Once retired, former FBI agent Paul Rico participated in the murder by Bulger and Flemmi of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler.
In 1994 Connolly, although retired, still had significant sources within the FBI who had access to confidential information. At that time Connolly tipped off Bulger that he was about to be indicted for the murders of 18 people, including Flemmi’s step-daughter Deborah Hussey. Bulger then went on the lam as a Fugitive.
Eventually, Stephen Flemmi pleaded guilty to his role in the murders of twelve people, including his step-daughter Deborah Hussey, Deborah Davis, and Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler. Connolly’s supervisor at the FBI, John Morris, was granted Immunity from Prosecution and testified in Court proceedings that he had run interference on behalf of Flemmi and Bulger in Federal probes of the two’s involvement in fixing horse races and gambling operations. Morris also admitted tipping off Connolly about an Informant who implicated Bulger and Flemmi in a murder. That Informant was then murdered. Under Morris’ Immunity agreement, he could not be charged with any crimes. Morris is living out his retirement on his taxpayer-funded FBI Pension in the Southern United States.
John Connolly was convicted on charges of racketeering and Obstruction of Justice but was acquitted on charges relating to the murders of three enemies of Bulger. One guilty verdict related to Connolly’s scheme to falsely accuse a decorated Boston police officer of fabricating evidence against Bulger and Flemmi. Former agent Connolly is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence. Although "Whitey" Bulger is currently on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, many observers to this saga, most notably reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, authors of the acclaimed ’BLACK MASS,’ do not believe the FBI is donating considerable resources to catch him. While the FBI admits Bulger has a history as a master of disguise, the agency fails to mention Edward McKenzie’s claim that Bulger has been known to dress as a woman.
Eventually, Congress began to investigate the crimes committed by the FBI against various individuals nationwide. In December, 2001 Congress offered a public apology to Boston residents Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone, who spent 30 years in prison after having been framed by the FBI for a murder they had no part of. Key evidence examined were documents prepared by Agent Paul Rico that revealed the names of the real murderers in that case, documents illegally kept by the FBI from the accused as being "exculpatory." Congressman Christopher Shays publicly admonished agent Rico thus: "I think you should be sent to jail!" Agent Paul Rico died while awaiting trial for his role in the murder of Roger Wheeler.
The Salvati and Limone case also is similar to the case of Martin Taccetta of New Jersey, who was convicted for the 1984 murder of a Mafia associate. A secret 1991 FBI memo revealed that the FBI knew that Taccetta was not at the murder scene, ‘exculpatory evidence’ the FBI unlawfully withheld from him at his trial. The FBI has still not turned over all documents relevant to this case and Taccetta still remains in a Federal prison for a crime the FBI says he did not commit.
These cases of criminal acts on the part of FBI agents further leads credence to the case of Colombo Family Associate "Sonny" Franzese, who was convicted for a bank robbery which the evidence shows he did not commit. This case was revealed in the mid-1990s by New York Post columnist Jack Newfield, although it is still not clear as to why FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover apparently directed his agents to frame Franzese.
THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ESCALATE
While the FBI was mired in the unfolding corruption scandals of the 1990s, Islamic terrorists worldwide were coalescing their efforts against America. In January, 1993 a Pakistani native murdered two CIA officers outside the agency’s headquarters in Virginia. The day after the assassin was convicted in State Court in November, 1997, four Americans were murdered by assassins in Karachi, Pakistan in an apparent response.
In June, 1996 a truck bomb killed 19 American soldiers at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. In July, 1997 two men were arrested in Brooklyn plotting a suicide bombing attack on the New York City subway system. In November, 1997 62 tourists were slaughtered by 6 Egyptian terrorists outside the ancient ruins of Luxor. These terrorists were associates of Sheik Omar Abdel Rachman.
As the pace and scale of the terrorist attacks against American interests worldwide escalated, the United States Congress did begin to take some actions. In 1996 Congress passed the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act,’ which, among other things, allowed the Secretary of State to designate organizations as terrorist groups and prohibit fundraising ventures that benefit them from operating within the United States. However, the Justice Department headed by Janet Reno still chose not to arrest terrorists openly raising funds through illegal activities, including drug trafficking and coupon fraud, despite the new legislation.
In February, 1998, five years after the first terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, Steven Emerson appeared before Congress, once again warning lawmakers that the growing threat of domestic terrorists was not being addressed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Also in 1998, Ben Jacobson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism. Jacobson testified as to the facts he had uncovered a decade earlier as to how Islamic terrorist organizations operating with the United States were funding terrorism worldwide through grocery coupon fraud.
In August of that year the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up by car bombs, killing 224. On December 4, 1998, President Bill Clinton was issued a report prepared by the CIA entitled: "Bin Laden Preparing to Hijack U. S. Aircraft and Other Attacks." The report, later made public by the 9/11 Commission, did not state that the intent of the hijacked planes was to fly them into buildings, but rather to be used as a leverage demanding the release of Ramzi Yousef and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rachman. DCI George Tenet told several members of the Intelligence community on that day the report was given to President Clinton that "we are at war" and that the fight against Islamic terrorists should be the country’s number one priority. The Clinton Administration would then fail to act in two instances in which covert military operations by the CIA likely would have resulted in the capture or death of Bin Laden.
In the absence of action, the terrorist plots continued, as the did the warnings to Congress, the Administration, and the American People. Congress established in 1998 the U. S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. This bi-partisan investigative body was chaired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. In 1999 the Commission issued the first of their reports. The report predicted large-scale terrorist attacks on the United States, stating: "Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." The Hart-Rudman reports received very little attention from the Media.
What also received little attention in 1999 was the book ‘The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism’ by British journalist Simon Reeve. In this book, Reeve documented allegations that are much more interesting when viewed in the context of what has occurred in the five years since the book’s publication. Reeve reported that terrorists with the Baghdad-based MEK were acting as conduits between bin Laden and the government of Saddam Hussein. Again, this claim was made a full two years before the Bush Administration pushed the case for a war in Iraq. Reeve also reported that al Qaeda terrorists had been successful in obtaining Anthrax. Reeve’s claim came two years before the Anthrax attacks in the United States. The FBI, in a scenario reminiscent of their fiasco when they tried to pin the Atlanta Olympics bombing on an innocent man, Richard Jewell, has tried unsuccessfully to date to pin the American Anthrax attacks on an American scientist.
Finally, Reeve reported 5 years ago that Osama bin Laden by that time was involved in a lucrative drug trafficking scheme with Afghan drug dealers and that much of the proceeds from this narco-terrorist enterprise was laundered through Chechen terrorists. If true, then the recent terrorist attacks against Russia, in which two planes were blown up, a subway in Moscow was blown up, and hundreds of Russians, including school children, were shot in the backs with rifles by terrorists, was funded at least in part by bin Laden’s Afghan drug network.
In October, 2000, al Qaeda terrorists on a small boat killed themselves and 17 U. S. sailors aboard the USS Cole in Yemen. Just 10 days later, the New York Post’s Al Guart ran an exclusive noting that the Federal government had made drastic cuts in the numbers of Federal cops that patrol high-risk government buildings.
On July 1, 2001 Al Guart published a very disturbing story entitled: "Feds Let Terror Spy Wriggle Free." Guart detailed how a few weeks earlier the Federal Protective Service had taken into custody a Middle Eastern man who was photographing a Federal building in lower Manhattan not far from the World Trade Center. The man was questioned, his film was confiscated, and his passport was photocopied. The foreigner was turned over first to an Immigration agent and then to an FBI agent, who released him. When the film was processed it revealed that the foreigner had photographed sensitive security areas of a number of Federal buildings and Courthouses. It then turned out that the man’s name, address, and passport were phony. Guart added that this security lapse "came amid reports that (Osama) bin Laden was planning a new major offensive against the United States." The Post quoted a source who stated: "The (terrorist) threat is through the roof!"
Also in July, 2001, Phoenix, Arizona-based FBI agent Kenneth Williams sent a memo to the FBI headquarters in Washington, warning that suspected Islamic terrorists he had monitored at a flight training school in Arizona could fit a broader pattern of a terrorist plot that would target domestic airlines. Agent Williams’ memo went ignored.
In August, 2001, FBI agent Coleen Rowley of the Minneapolis field office applied for permission from FBI headquarters in Washington for a Search Warrant to examine the computer of one Zacarias Moussaoui, who had been detained on Immigration charges. Moussaoui had caught the attention of Federal authorities while attending a flight school in Oklahoma in which he sought training on how to fly and steer a 747 but not learn how to take off or land such a jet. Also disturbing, in June of 2001, Moussaoui had made inquiries into setting up a crop dusting company. Such a business could be used by terrorists to spray chemical weapons such as Anthrax over a large, populated area. It would later be established that during this time Moussaoui had made numerous phone calls to terrorists in Germany that were involved in the 9/11 plot against America.
Agent Rowley’s requests for permission to further investigate Zacarias Moussaoui were denied by FBI headquarters in Washington, and Rowley would later become, like agents Fox, Whitehurst, and others, a victim of a campaign of intimidation and character assassination. It is now known that Moussaoui was part of the 9/11 terrorist conspiracy. An examination of his computer might have allowed steps to be taken to prevent the plot from succeeding.
Two weeks before 9/11, 2001, a heated argument erupted between a veteran FBI agent and superiors in Washington regarding the agent’s demand to be allowed to continue his investigation of an Associate of Osama bin Laden. The agent, a former U. S. Navy fighter pilot, would later tell the Senate and House Intelligence Community that he warned FBI bureaucrats that "someone will die" because of the Bureau’s stonewalling on terrorism.(2)
Finally, on September 10, 2001, John O’Neill, who served as head of Counter-Intelligence for the FBI for many years before retiring to become Head of Security for the World Trade Center, issued the following, final warning: "(A terrorist attack in America is) going to happen. And it looks like something big is brewing!"(3)
THE THIRD CRIME SCENE: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
On this date, 2,749 men, women, and children were murdered by Islamic terrorists at the World Trade Center.
Officer John Perry was at Police Headquarters a few blocks away turning in his retirement papers when he heard the sound of the first hijacked plane crashing into the North Tower. Peter Bielfeld was among 60 off-duty firefighters who also raced down to the burning Towers on that fateful day who would not make it back home. For men such as these, their jobs had nothing to do with a paycheck. Officers Kathy Mazza and Moira Smith were among those responders who gave their lives while proving that Courage knows no specific Gender.
9/11, 2001 was a Primary Election day in New York, and residents awoke on that morning expecting to cast their votes in crucial races, including those that would determine who would be the candidates of both the Republican and Democratic parties in the election to succeed popular Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. While the acts of the terrorists did succeed in postponing the Democratic traditions of our Republic on that day, these same acts presented another challenge to a small group of American citizens:
Passengers on the fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, learned from cell phone calls to loved ones that the three previously hijacked planes had been crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was clear to these American hostages that the Islamic terrorists who had taken over their plane would likely target another U. S. landmark, such as the White House or the Sears Tower in Chicago. At this most unexpected and critical moment of their lives, these American men and women instinctively reacted by invoking their quintessential American privilege; the right under a Democracy to vote. Once they tallied their votes amongst themselves as to what course of action to take, the passengers of Flight 93 fought back against the terrorists, led by passenger Todd Beamer’s immortal command; "Let’s Roll!" As was the case with the 343 New York City firefighters who died that day, as well as the scores of members of America’s law enforcement community, the passengers of Flight 93 gave their lives on 9/11 in the act of saving the lives of many others.
The witnessing of the sacrifices of these brave Americans on 9/11 was perhaps most horrific for those in the Media, the FBI, and other law enforcement officers who had predicted many years before that such an event would occur if the United States government did not take action against the growing threat these terrorists presented.
The tears shed by Americans on that day were in stark contrast to the reaction of Palestinian and Muslim communities throughout the Middle East, where men, women, and children danced in the streets in celebration of this Evil.
While America’s enemies rejoiced in this event, Americans on that day closed ranks and truly became "one nation." Inevitably, as the months passed, many Americans of all walks of life began to ask questions of our government leaders as to what could have and should have been done prior to that date that may have prevented or diminished this tragedy. More ‘whistleblowers’ emerged to relate allegations of government improprieties. A year after 9/11 two FBI agents, Robert Wright and John Vincent, told ABC News that they had been ordered by superiors to halt their investigation of associates of Osama bin Laden back in 1998. Wright put his allegations bluntly: "September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit."
Wright also executed an Affidavit which detailed his allegations about a fellow FBI agent named Gamal Abdel-Hafiz. Wright claims that Agent Abdel-Hafiz refused to wear a wire on a suspected terrorist, saying that ‘a Muslim doesn’t record another Muslim." Despite Wright’s complaints to superiors in Washington regarding Abdel-Hafiz, agent Abdel-Hafiz was promoted to an extremely sensitive anti-terrorism post at the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Despite this intelligence failure, the FBI office in Chicago did succeed in arresting el Rukn member Jose Padilla, charging him as an "enemy combatant" for his alleged role in a plot to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ here in the United States.
THE FIREPROOFING OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
As various investigations of the events of 9/11 unfolded, serious concern was turned towards the fireproofing - or lack thereof - of the Twin Towers. Photographs by architect Roger Morse taken in the 1990s revealed that the fireproofing was not consistent throughout the building. The photographs show some fireproofing completely missing, while fireproofing was also incorrectly applied to rusted steel, essentially offering no fire protection.
Professor Frederick Mowrer of the Fire Protection Engineering Department of the University of Maryland, is among those experts funded by the National Science Foundation who have investigated the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. These experts suggest that the inadequate fireproofing of the Twin Towers may have been a significant factor in their collapse. Their findings suggest that had the Towers been adequately fireproofed, these buildings would have stood much longer, allowing the evacuation to safety of many more victims of this terrorist attack. A thorough analysis of the fireproofing at the World Trade Center can also be found at the website of retired FDNY Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn.
The fireproofing material used in the Trade Center was a foam that was sprayed on the steel support beams and adjacent areas throughout the building. The Contract to perform this vital function was awarded by the Port Authority to Louis DiBono, an Associate of the Gambino Mafia Family. An investigation by law enforcement authorities many years ago as to how DiBono received this lucrative contract and whether kickbacks were given to Port Authority officials failed to result in any indictments. Still unanswered are the questions regarding other public buildings in the New York City area that DiBono’s firm may have had the contract to fireproof, and whether these buildings to this day endanger the public safety.
With the notable exception of the Iranian ‘dirty bomb’ plot, the FBI during the past 20 years has repeatedly failed to protect America from Islamic terrorists, while at the same time there have been numerous revelations of FBI protection of drug dealers, and, in some cases, collusion between the FBI and members of organized crime in the commission of Mafia murders.
The case of the brutal murder of 16 year old Tina Isa by her parents 15 years ago reveals two important points; number one, that these Islamic terrorists do not share the values common to the Judeo-Christian heritage upon which our country was built; secondly, that the FBI has in the past two decades surveilled hundreds of Islamic terrorists throughout America who could have been arrested and/or deported on charges of illegal immigration, Visa fraud, coupon fraud, drug trafficking, and other criminal acts, yet the FBI and the Justice Department, for reasons unknown, has failed to remove these dangerous criminals from our communities. The threat these terrorists pose to America continues to this day.
As for the 9/11 Commission, family members and friends of the victims of 9/11 have expressed their disappointment that the Commission did not address the issue of the inadequate fireproofing of the World Trade Center by Gambino Associate Louis DiBono, and whether DiBono’s apparent shortcuts led unnecessarily to the deaths of many who otherwise would have survived.
However, had the Commission followed this course of inquiry, Louis DiBono was one person whom they could NOT subpoena to scrutinize, although DiBono may be answering to a Higher Authority as to the consequences of his actions: on October 4, 1990, cops discovered DiBono’s dead body in the front seat of his Cadillac, the first person murdered at the first Crime Scene - World Trade Center.
(1) Guarding the Secrets, by Ellen Harris, American Jihad, by Steven Emerson, and the New York Post.
‘Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,’ 2004.
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