Bojinka - Part 3
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Why We Should Expect Another 9/11
Article #9 – Bojinka - Part 3
Operation ‘Bojinka was blessedly aborted, but the legacy lived on. Sadly, so did our government’s ignorance, indifference and ineptness. We, the American people, would pay dearly for all of this on 9/11.
This article is quite personal for me since I was heavily involved from the beginning. Regretfully, there is no end in sight, only gathering clouds on the horizon.
We’ll step back in time a bit. In July of 1993, I met a Muslim Prince in Singapore. His family had originated in Hadramaut but had moved into the neighborhood about 800 years earlier. Being good Muslims, they married many locals and went forth and multiplied - profusely. Centuries later there were very few families within a thousand-mile radius with which the Prince was not related.
We became friends and began working together on various projects in Southeast Asia. I had not heard much from the Bureau in a while, having stopped my Soviet activities soon after the Gulf War. We’d talk from time to time but nothing serious. In November of 1993, my Bureau buddy rang through. Since I had previously told him about the Prince, he wanted to know if I knew anything about a terrorist group named Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). I didn’t have a clue but said I would be happy to look into it. Apparently the ASG appeared on the Bureau’s radar when an American, Charles Walton, had been kidnapped by ASG on Basilan on November 14th. Thus began my decade long battle with the Abu Sayyaf.
I contacted the Prince. He knew all about the Abu Sayyaf. Not surprisingly, the family of its leaders was distant kin. He firmly believed in the self-determination of Muslim Filipinos, but he did not like the ‘foreign’ [Arab] element in the ASG. It was a ‘Moro’ problem; it should be handled by ‘Moros,’ ‘Moro-to-Moro’, without any foreign intervention or participation. Accordingly, we began our battle to resolve the ASG issue.
By late 1994, the Prince was royally riled with the Abu Sayyaf. He came back with a startling proposal; with American help, he would dismantle the ASG. As his official representative, it was my job to sell Washington on the idea. The proposal was submitted on 14 December 1994, just in time to sit in someone’s inbox until the end of the Holidays.
Operation ‘Bojinka’ blew up roughly 3 weeks later. Five days after the blow up, on January 12th, the ASG was officially implicated in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in cooperation with Ramzi Ahmed Youssef (RAY). By the end of the month, Washington knew about the ‘Bojinka’ plan to blow up 11 American airliners and their desired goal to hijack American planes and fly them into tall buildings. The Prince and I were certain that we would hear soon.
Such was not the case. After months of silence, I began a letter campaign. Every month Washington was dutifully dunned for a desired response. None was forthcoming. Finally on July 28th, I heard from the Senior Senator of my home state. He informed me that he had written to the FBI and asked them to respond directly to me, copying him. Now, I knew that I would get an answer. Wrong, again.
On November 1st I heard from the United States Department of State. The Acting Director of the Office of Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Affairs (PIMBS) wrote the following:
“The issue of the Sultan’s dealings with regard to the Abu Sayyaf Group is one of Philippine internal security, and is the province of the Government of the Philippines.”
I was stunned. American citizens had been kidnapped. The Abu Sayyaf had aided and abetted RAY, who had blown up the World Trade Center in New York City, attempted to blow up 11 American airliners and planned to hijack planes in America and fly them into tall buildings.
This was an internal issue of the Philippines?
Interestingly, the Philippine government did not see it the same way. At approximately at the same time that I received my letter from the State Department, a Senior Philippine Government Interior Official issued the following statement:
“We believe there is a worldwide organization of Muslims espousing terrorism to pursue their religious and political ends.”
Care to guess who was right?
Well, I still hadn’t heard from the boys in the Bureau. We’ll see what they have to say. The letter campaign continued and appropriately and finally on income tax day, 15 April 1996, the FBI capitulated and sent me a response, duly signed by the Assistant Director, National Security Division.
“I am writing in response to your July 20th communication to Senator _______ and your communications to the International Terrorism Section at FBI Headquarters of October 31st and November 30th.
As you know the FBI is the lead agency responsible for combating terrorism within the United States. Additionally, the FBI has responsibility for investigation of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and facilities overseas.
In order to be successful in fulfilling these responsibilities…. Your correspondence to us contains no information, which suggests that such a violation of law has occurred that is within the FBI’s jurisdiction.
I found it all quite interesting. They referenced my letter to the Senator and two of my communications to them, but omitted referencing both the balance of my correspondence (roughly 13 letters) and the years in which they were written.
However we both actually did agree; they were indeed responsible for terrorism. What the Assistant Director neglected to mention was that I had already supplied the Bureau with reams of specific information, at their own request.
Ultimately, in the dead of night, my files were carefully copied, suitably sanitized and then silently shipped off to Washington for the 9/11 Commission, which was attempting to apportion appropriate blame to all the guilty parties. One would have to conclude from this that someone, somewhere thought that the information, which I had supplied, was of sufficient interest. Apparently this did not include the FBI, which received it.
The Philippine government said there is a worldwide conspiracy of Muslim terrorism. The American State Department said that’s your problem, not ours. The FBI said prove it and if it’s not in our jurisdiction we can’t do anything. Meanwhile, American citizens, those fellow countrymen carrying the little blue passports issued by the Department of State, were being kidnapped in increasing numbers and then later on killed, when the Abu Sayyaf turned nasty.
Confusion and craziness; I think so, how about you?
In the next article we will address ‘homegrown’ terrorism, better known as the Oklahoma City Bombing. How ‘homegrown’ was it, really?