Jordan is fully committed to fight both terrorism and Osama Ben Laden whose followers are still being prosecuted this week for their attempt to sabotage and carry out attacks in Amman. Yet, many of us still feel with the Saudi foreign minister who brought out the names of five Saudis wanted by the American FBI while they died years ago before the anti-Arab hysterical witch hunt started. But some questions are still being raised amid the US effort against “international terrorism.”
We in Jordan have had several narrow escapes from the nefarious plots hatched by Ben Laden and would welcome any initiative that would remove the lingering fears of continued conspiracies against our national security and stability. As such, the Jordanians’ commitment to a genuine international campaign against terrorism, in all its forms and shapes, including the state-sponsored style practised by Israel, is unwavering.
That approach apart, we cannot but remain aloof to the many questions raised and the elusive answers that defy logic in explaining how and who could have carried out the deadly aerial attacks in New York and Washington. Veterans who have spent a lifetime studying intelligence operations assert that the attacks could not have been carried out by any “Arab or Islamist” group without involvement of highly-placed “insider” networks in the US institutions.
These veterans are indeed best placed to assess intelligence operations, particularly in the United States, because the very focus of their professional work was the US and they have acquired intimate knowledge of how the intelligence community works in the US. They include, among others, Mikhail Magrelov, a long-standing intelligence specialist and deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee, Yevgeny Kozhokin, director of the state-run Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), and Andrei Kosyakov, formerly assistant to the chairman of the subcommittee of the Supreme Soviet of Russia, in charge of monitoring the activity of the intelligence services.
Doubts over the US assertions that the attacks had an “Arab and Islamist” link in the form of Ben Laden have also been raised by former government veterans and diplomats in Europe who argue that Washington should not jump to the conclusion that the Saudi dissident was responsible for the attacks and try to sell it to the world; the US should focus more on homegrown terrorism in its investigations.
The overall argument of the Russian intelligence experts is that a yet-to-be-identified but powerful and influential organisation could have been behind the operation, and this group may have little in common or may not have any links with Arabs and Muslims.
The experts argue that an organisation controlled by someone like Ben Laden could not have orchestrated the attacks that required the involvement of at least 100 to 150 dedicated people living within the US, dozens of them with extraordinary skills in flying, absolute familiarity with the US civil aviation system, emergency procedures and routines, high-level communication expertise and strategic planning, as well as the ability to evade intelligence surveillance. Such hi-tech minds with military precision and coordination could only belong to a group much more sophisticated than the largely ragtag operatives of any Third World country or organisation whose erstwhile operations have involved, at best, slamming explosives-laden trucks into buildings.
The argument and mainstream belief that no American would carry such a heinous crime of destruction in a suicide operation as that of Sept. 11 is immediately countered by the Oklahoma bombing of 1995. That bombing was carried out by Timothy McVeigh who, many intelligence experts believe, was a member of a wider network Pure American (Anglo-Saxon) militants, including active and retired military officers and Green Beret colonels.
The truth about McVeigh’s group was deliberately suppressed, the experts argue, pointing out that McVeigh had equally strong suicidal feelings when he insisted on being executed. Furthermore, there was also a visible but unexplained anxiety on the part of the authorities in Washington to see that his mouth was sealed with death without delay.
Among the many questions raised by the experts are:
– How was it possible for an “Arab or Islamist group” to find “suicidal” professionals in the art of flying with precision and who could command a large civilian aircraft with such precision as to inflict maximum damage?
– How did the “emergency procedures” fail to go into effect in a few minutes after the hijacked planes deviated from their predetermined flight path?
– How did the hijacked planes manage to remain in air for between 55 minutes and 80 minutes?
– Why did the hijacked passengers who spoke with family members from aboard the planes did not bother to mention anything about the way the hijackers looked? (“The appearance of the hijackers in no way distinguished them from all the other passengers…. This supports the supposition that hijackers looked European in outward appearance,” says one of the experts).
– Why and how could the brains behind such a meticulously planned operation allow “extra big leads!!!” to be left behind, like a traceable rented vehicle filled with the Holy Koran and flying manuals in Arabic that clearly establish an Arab link to the attacks?
– How did the “Arabs and Muslims” who the US says carried out the attacks manage to evade attention from the alert intelligence agencies of the US for the several months it would require to plan the operation?
The argument here is that almost every Arab or Muslim living in or entering the US with the slightest trace of links with militancy has come under very close scrutiny of the country’s investigating and intelligence agencies. It is virtually impossible for such a large number of Arabs and Muslims to have evaded investigation and to have managed to take part in an operation of this magnitude and which involves such high-sensitive areas as aviation security.
All indications at this point in time are that accusing Arabs and Muslims of carrying out the attacks is very convenient for many interested groups and serves more than one purpose. Moreover, it is an exercise that shifts attention from the real authors of the assault. And, given the record of cases like the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, the Oklahoma blast and other alleged sabotage plots, it seems highly unlikely that the world will ever know or be told the truth.
Mr. Musa Keilani contributed this article to the Jordan Times.