The Story of the Israeli Source
The Initial attack on the World Trade Center
On Friday, February 26, 1993, at approximately 12:18 PM, a huge car bomb exploded in the Secret Service section of the underground garage of the World Trade Center in New York. The blast killed five people and injured many more The concrete ceiling over the Path subway station collapsed and the casualties were killed by the debris. The blast destroyed three floors of reinforced concrete and set off fires that sent dense clouds of smoke up into one of the two towers. Power was interdicted and the lighting and elevator systems were not functioning.
Many thousands of office workers had to be evacuated . There was great chaos in the building with occupants breaking windows to get air and filling the stairwells with a panic stricken mass of fleeing people. This attack was the work of a handful of amateur Muslims who were soon apprehended and tried. Four of them, Nidal Ayvad, Mohammed Salameh, Amad Ajaj and Mahmud Aboulhalma were tried and convicted of this act and in May of 1994 were sent to prison for life. Their putative leader, one Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a New York area religious leader, was also sentenced to life for his controlling role in the attack.
The issues of this bomb attack were quite simple. Muslim fundamentalists had tried to destroy a major American financial institution. That they were amateurs and very inept was beside the point. Other, better organized and funded groups would note the disruption and panic and use it for future such attempts.
The Americans are not anywhere as competent in dealing with terrorists as we are. We have been intimately involved with them since before 1948. As usual, the American media made a large production of it for about a week and then it simply vanished.
The attitude of the Clinton administration was that they did not want to disturb the American Muslim population and in the end, viewed the attack as an aberration that was unlikely to be repeated. The terrorists were viewed as a group of rank amateurs and the matter was not pursued. We have good rapport with the Central Intelligence Agency and have many of our people employed there but this is a domestic matter and these internal matters are addressed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is not as friendly with us as other agencies. They have been instructed to cooperate with our people on such things but are very sparing in this cooperation. In summation, the Americans did not learn from this attack and this will be dealt with later in this report.
Muslim extremists in US
Because of very lax, almost incompetent, enforcement of American immigration laws, many Muslim terrorists go to America to conduct their plotting, secure in the knowledge that unless they commit a crime, no one in authority will bother with them. They are free to enter, overstay their short-term visas and go to ground without fear of detection. Because many of these individuals and groups are a distinct threat to us, we have sought and obtained permission from the American authorities to send our counter intelligence people into their country and keep these potential terrorists under close surveillance.
Part of the agreement permitting this is that we were to keep the FBI fully appraised of anything we might find. They also agreed to supply us with information. This was rarely fully forthcoming so we set up our own surveillance, using telephonic systems we controlled. Also, we have been able to track bank records without any difficulty and can immediately locate funds coming into the United States from suspect foreign banks, known to act as conduits for terrorist funding. Because the FBI is often not particularly responsive or cooperative, we, in turn, only inform them of matters of common interest when absolutely necessary.
Due to our investigations, we early on learned that known Muslim terrorists and suspected terror cells were primarily located in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in both the Miami and Hollywood, Florida areas and once this had been ascertained, these groups were kept under close local surveillance from December 2000 to April 2001. The terrorists were watched daily and all telephone usage was closely observed. They often used codes when talking both inside the United States and overseas but these were fairly easily broken.
Specific Activities of Mossad in US against terrorists
We were aware that several terrorist cells were operating in Germany, thanks to cooperation with the German BND and another agency. In 1996 and 1997, we were watching a number of suspected terrorists, specifically one Mohammed Atta and his lieutenant, Marwan al=Shehi were located at 54 Maarienstrasse in Hamburg We learned from telephone intercepts and one of our undercover people, a Yemeni , that the Muslims were planning to attack American naval units ported in Yemen. This was the attack on the USS Cole on October 12, 2000.
Our informant said that the Hamburg people were talking about the idea of launching a “massive and impressive” attack on American territory that would be planned to achieve the maximum public relations effect. In 2000, we learned that Atta and others had left Germany for the United States and that they were specifically preparing to launch a spectacular terrorist attack somewhere inside the United States. We had notified the FBI headquarters about this and then learned from them that Atta and others were now resident in Hollywood, Florida.
We sent a team of Arab-speakers led by Hanan Serfati, into the area and they were able to lease apartments had rented several dwellings near the corner of 701st St. and 21st St. in Hollywood, in direct proximity to the terrorist cell. Initially, we kept them under constant surveillance and when they had left their residence, conducted a break-in and planted listening devices. Also, one of our people, speaking perfect Arabic, made personal contact with the Atta people. The team leader himself kept a residence in proximity to the American Postal Service office where it had been determined that they had a drop box. At this point, we had kept both the FBI and the CIA fully informed of our actions and they, in turn, were able to help us with mail covers and other information. .
We observed that several of the terrorists began to take flight training. Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi took jet flying lessons at Huffman Aviation, a flight school in nearby Venice. Again, we notified the FBI and CIA of this training because it indicated a probable aerial assault but neither agency expressed any genuine interest in the information.
The Actual Terrorist Plan revealed
Our undercover agent with the Atta group had proven to be of great value to them by giving them information we supplied him. As they grew more confident of him, they confided to him, and we had made tapes of these conversations, that they planned to launch a massive aerial attack against targets inside the United States. The USS Cole incident, they felt, had had very little impact on the American public. It was then that an enlargement of the 1993 car bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York was put forward They developed the idea that if they crashed their planes into both buildings, the results would be far more dramatic than the initial attack. Later, our man also suggested a possible attack on other targets in Washington. They discussed attacks on the White House, the Capitol building and the Pentagon.
The number of terrorists available to fly commercial planes into targets was limited by the number of men who were available and could be trained. It was then decided to rule out the White House because it was such a small target and concentrate on the Pentagon and the Capitol building. Once that had been settled, the actual planning began in earnest. Our man kept us advised at all times of the progress and we, in turn, immediately notified the Israeli Embassy in Washington and our own agency, both in Tel Aviv and the United States.
Reports to Department of Justice (FBI) and CIA to White House in re coming attacks: The President notified
As it appeared that there would be such attacks for a certainty., our Embassy first of all contacted both the American Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency and appraised them of the seriousness of the situation. Eventually, the office of the Ambassador made contact with top aides of the Vice President Cheney.
It was felt at the time that Mr. Cheney would understand this matter and be able to make a presentation to the President. In a number of substantive talks with Mr. Cheney, it was mutually decided that the attacks should proceed. The reasons agreed upon were that it would at once give the President the opportunity of securing great domestic power with the legislature and the public. It would also permit, and most important, that the U.S. could attack Saddam Hussein. He was then one of our top enemies and had, in fact, bombarded us with missiles during the Gulf War.
It was felt strongly that if Hussein were removed, the country invaded by American troops and occupied, not only would the United States have secure rights to the huge Iraqi oil reserves but could set up a large, permanent military base in Iraq. This would act as a buffer for Israel and a constant threat to other Arab states plus set up a vital block between Iran, who has threatened Israel many times, and our state. Mr. Cheney, who has excellent connections with the American oil business, was entirely in favor of this on both counts.
He then made a presentation, with our people present, to the President who at once accepted all the aspects of it. The decision was made not to interdict the attack in any way and allow it to happen as it would and to await the outcome. Both the CIA and FBI were to be listened to but forbidden to act “until informed to do so.”
Mr. Cheney remarked that he did not want an attack on the Pentagon to emasculate its military leadership so he suggested that since a part of the building was empty due to interior renovations, that our man with the Atta group inform them that this empty side was where the important people worked.
When the subject of the air attack on the Capitol building, an enormous and easily hit target, the President remarked that if the Congress was sitting at the time of the attack, the death or injury of many of its members would not only add to national outrage but also strengthen his powers as a President during a wartime. There was at this point in time, no doubt that a subsequent American military attack on Iraq with ground troops would be made as discussed above.
Influx of Foreign Intelligence Warnings
Since well before the target date, a number of high-level warnings were received by American governmental agencies concerning news of a pending terrorist attack. Because, at the highest level, it was wished not to interfere with the probability of such an attack, all such information was sent to either the Vice President or the President himself. Of course, nothing was done in fact but there were many worried conversations back and forth. The most persistent were the Germans who had developed inside information and on a number of occasions sent their finding on to the Americans. All were ignored.
Mossad agrees to provide special services to US in addition to updates on Atta people
After many discussions, it was determined that the American authorities could not be seen to have had real knowledge and specific information on this attack. It was also reasoned that for the attack to achieve its geo-political goals, the targets would have to be destroyed. Of course they could not destroy the Pentagon nor would this be wished. As stated above, the damage was to be in a so-called “safe” area. Our man in Florida did give to the Atta people his ‘inside” information as to which part of the building to attack and thereby save the lives of top military officials. Because the main public relations targets were the two tall buildings, it was imperative that they be either badly damaged or destroyed in full view of the cameras and the American public. Heavy loss of life was expected but mention was made of an air accident previously in which an American bomber got lost in the clouds and rammed into the Empire State building. Damage to the building was not great. It was finally agreed that we would supply certain technical assistance to absolutely insure the very visual and dramatic damage.
The Americans would have no provable connection with this. To achieve this, first a study of both buildings was made that showed they were very cheaply erected and that it would be very possible to “assist” the terrorists in their work. To do this, three teams of our people were selected with the idea that they would leave the country right away and that no one would attempt to interdict or block their exit.
The actual plan was to enter the big buildings at night as maintenance people, to proceed to the part of the buildings most likely to be struck. We knew approximately where this would happen but not certainly. Then, entering the office spaces, qjuick access through the false ceilings allowed the team to use locally-made thermite bombs with magnetic attachments which would easily and quickly be placed against a strategic number of the horizontal steel beams that held up each floor.
They were to be triggered by a specific rise in heat and were placed against each bean at an angle so as to insure burring the beam through sufficiently to materially weaken it. Our engineers calculated that first the plane would strike the building and start big fires. The fires would weaken the beams and when the heat had reached a certain point, the thermite hidden up above the false ceilings would ignite and burn through the beam. The weight of the building above would press down below and it was then hoped that everything would crash down.
As we did not know just on what floor the plane would strike, these heat bombs were placed, five to a floor, for five floors, up and down. These bombs were small enough, and safe enough, to conceal in maintenance equipment. And, in the event that the attacks were aborted for any reason, our people could easily return to the buildings afterwards and retrieve the bombs without leaving a trace. The thermite would certainly eat into the steel but would not explode and reveal its presence.
About three weeks prior to the actual attack, the special code words were developed by Atta. In that case, the Pentagon was called ‘The Faculty of Fine Arts”, the Capitol was termed “The Faculity of Law;” and the Trade Building tower was termed, as "The Faculty of Town Planning." This, of course was part of the cover story that Atta and his people were students, following an educational career in America and used these for international telephone calls to their superiors in Saudi Arabia.
As soon as the date was fixed for the attack, the White House warned very senior American officials like the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense and his staff, not to fly on commercial aircraft because of “rumors of possible hijackings” . No one outside of a very small circle was told the truth. And because of the possibility that the White House might still be a target of opportunity, the President went in early October, well before the projected attack date, to Texas and then later went to Florida where he and his staff remained in safety until after the attack was over.
The final attack varied very little from the last planning stage. One of the hijacked planes, the one intended to hit the Capitol building, was crashed by action of its passengers but the other three struck their targets as anticipated. The flames, smoke and general confusion were indeed a public spectacle, seen by all of America and the buildings, beams severed when the heat reached a certain point, did collapse in great clouds. A third building was tended to from the inside, not struck by an aircraft, and because great tanks of fuel were ignited, burned until it collapsed some time later.
The carnage was not to believe and everyone involved in this felt is was a most profitable operation. As we know, the President was acclaimed as a great leader and he was then able to marshal national support into his attack on Iraq. The military campaign, as foreseen, has proven to be quick and decisive, Hussein and his henchmen were swept away and now the American military and civilian forces are in complete control of Iraq. Iran has been put on notice and we expect a large, permanent American military base in the area to act as a deterrent to any future manifestation of Arab nationalism. All of our technicians, as opposed to our intelligence people, were immediately evacuated and aside from several who were temporarily detained by American authorities, eventually all were released and returned safe home.
Now, we have moved from a defensive to an offensive posture and, with American support and a large military presence, the ever-present fears of attacks have been neutralized, hopefully for a very long time.