|09-16-2001, 11:44 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2001
Local Time: 03:26 AM
The Enemy Within
15 September: Mohamed Atta and his cousin Marwan Ashehri, two of the 19 hijackers named by the US Justice Department, as perpetrators of the New York World Trade Center and Pentagon, Washington suicide attacks, have been variously described as Egyptian and Saudi nationals.
DEBKAfile ’s intelligence sources have turned up their real identity: they were Palestinian-Americans. Atta was implicated in a series of bus bombings that hit Jerusalem in 1996. He evaded Israeli capture by going to ground among his relatives in America. The US authorities at the time turned down Israel’s request to extradite this US national. Our sources further identify Atta as the scion of a prominent, affluent family in El-Bireh, Ramallah, one of whose members is a former mayor and most of whom carry American citizenship, as do many elite Palestinian families in Ramallah and its environs.
The latest information coming out of the FBI investigation traces Atta, Ashehri and another of the 7 suicide pilots, Ziad Jarrah, from the Lebanese Beqaa Valley, to Hamburg four years ago, where they established an Islamic terrorist cell. DEBKAfile’s terrorist experts note that this cell based itself on a much older German-based terrorist group – the one involved in the 1988 PanAm 103 terrorist disaster over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 died.
Atta, who set up an Islamic prayer room in the local university, was known in Hamburg as “Mohamed el-Amir”. Ashihri registered for studies, but never turned up. Jarrah, who flew aboard the plane that crashed near Pittsburgh, went from Germany to Afghanistan eighteen months ago and from there to Miami, Florida.
It now appears that some of the 7 suicide pilots may have trained not only in private flying schools in Florida, but at US military schools. That is yet another pointer to how well Islamic jihadists were able to secretly place themselves in American society and its institutions.
The most recent penetration dates back 11 years at least, although its roots go back much earlier. In 1990, when the Afghan war ended with the Red Army’s defeat, Osama Bin Laden, who led the international Islamic brigade America raised to fight the Red Army, turned coat. “Afghan Arabs” - as those volunteers came to be known - were allowed to settle in the United States with their families. Some stayed loyal to their former commander and enlisted to the Al Qaeda, the militant movement Bin Laden created to fight the second surviving secular superpower, America.
Those Afghan Arabs form the American-based core of Al Qaeda.
A second important branch that buried its operatives inside the United States was the fanatical and violent Egyptian Jihad Islami movement, Bin Laden’s foremost ally.
In the latter half of the nineties, those two groups working hand in glove were joined by a younger generation of Arab Moslem militants from the Middle East, brought up in the tradition of suicide for the cause.
According to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, those three branches, numbering no more than some 2,500 activists in all, form the engine powering contemporary international terrorism. They gained entry into the United States in the last 11 years with the help of moles and agents inside America’s governing institutions, including its intelligence machinery. Those agencies emphatically deny such penetrations. This is only partly true. Whereas it is inconceivable that US counterintelligence would directly hire Moslem terrorists, there are known cases of US double agents, who by definition serve two services, knowingly aiding an alien agency, which is close to the Bin Laden network.
Furthermore, US counterintelligence has strived for two decades at least to penetrate the militant Islamic fundamentalist world by planting its own moles and double agents – with very little success. In most cases, those plants remained faithful to their religious tenets, not their American handlers, using their covert American connections to spread the fundamentalist net inside US intelligence itself.
The Egyptian American, Aly Mohamed (see earlier article on this page) , was certainly not the only terrorist in disguise to be accepted into the American military, where he pretended to serve US interests while actually working for Bin Laden. There must be hundreds of double agents like him burrowed under US security, some in a position to thwart the United States’ attempts to guard itself against the jihad menace.
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