Wednesday, November 29, 2006


As the official story goes, while Pope John Paul II was preparing to visit Manila in early 1995, with security ratcheting up everywhere, two early al Qaeda masterminds were mapping out his route. They were preparing to dress in ecclesiastical garb and blend in to the procession with bombs beneath their robes, and even collected pictures of the pontiff to ensure they would kill the right guy. The 9-11 Commission concluded they also plotted to assassinate President Clinton there in November, but missed their chance. [1] They were staying in a hotel (Dona Josefa Apartments, room 603) only 200 yards from the Vatican embassy, and almost as close to the local police station. They moved in on December 8, 1994. They had few visitors over the next month, but one, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), was reportedly financing their operation and was in and out of room 603.

Yousef and Murad also built a lot of bombs, one of which blew up prematurely on January 6. The two men fled their burning room, explaining they’d had a mishap with fireworks and would be back soon. Later on one of the culprits made good on his promise and was arrested by local authorities as he returned to the smoking scene. The suspect was quickly identified as Abdul Murad, an al Qaeda-linked Kuwaiti trained and licensed to fly commercial airliners in U.S. flight schools, and wanted in connection with the 1993 WTC attack. Ramzi Yousef, suspected mastermind of that attack, was the other guy in room 603, and returned with Murad. But when he saw the police, he fled, and evaded capture for a bit longer.

But Yousef did leave behind his lap-top computer and some disks, apparently too heavy to take with him as he fled. Of course they were full of top secret terrorist information. Investigators found an apparent mess of data on this computer – flight numbers, Arabic-sounding code-names, references to timers, all under the heading “Bojinka.” Yousef in fact had allegedly executed a test-run just weeks before, planting a small practice bomb beneath his seat. It worked, killing a Japanese businessman on the next leg of the plane’s flight and injuring others, forcing an emergency landing. [2]

A Graphic Used by CNN in their original reporting in 1995-96.
Bojinka was soon discovered to be the itinerary for eleven terrorists to plant eleven nitroglycerine bombs, much more powerful than the test bomb, on eleven U.S. jetliners, timed to explode simultaneously over the Pacific. And it was set up to go, possibly soon. White House Counter-terrorism “Czar” Richard Clarke mentioned Bojinka in his book Against All Enemies, by details if not by name. He wrote how he received a message from Manila regarding Ramzi Yousef and his devious plan, which featured undetectable liquid bombs to be assembled in eye drop bottles on board the planes. The bombers were then to mimic Yousef’s trial run and disembark, leaving the others to die. Clarke called the FAA and told them to stop all flights originating in the Pacific. When flights resumed, liquids were not allowed on board. [3] Officials later estimated 4,000 people would likely have died if the plot hadn’t been intercepted. Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA counter-terrorism director later said of this plan “we had never seen anything that complicated or ambitious before. It was unparalleled.” [4]

Within a few weeks of Bojinka’s discovery, Yousef was rounded up in Pakistan and joined Murad in prison. According to Peter Lance, that wacky KSM happened to be living in the same building, and when he saw reporters from Time show up, he told them all about the arrest with his own face but the clever pseudonym “Khalid Sheikh.” [5] The next day Yousef was flown to the U.S. and helicoptered to jail in Manhattan. An FBI agent reportedly shouted to him over the noise “you see the Trade Centers down there, they're still standing, aren't they?” Yousef allegedly responded “they wouldn't be if I had enough money and enough explosives.” [6]

Yousef and Murad were joined in the conspiracy charge by an Afghan named Wali Khan Amin Shah. CNN reported on the Bojinka trial in mid-1996, starting with jury selection on May 13. [7] Ramzi knew his rights, and chose to represent himself. His co-defendants Murad and Shah retained a defense team that called five witnesses, as CNN reported, “including a police officer from the Philippines who admitted that he had mixed up evidence he had examined.” Yousef maintained he’d been framed by Philippines police, but the three were finally convicted on all counts of attempted murder and related charges on September 5. The charges carried out a mandatory life sentence at least, with the sentencing scheduled for December 5. [8] Case closed… Long silence...

[1] 9-11 Commission Final Report. Page 147.
[2] “Oplan Bojinka.” Wikipedia. Accessed November 11, 2005 at:
[3] Clarke, Richard. “Against all Enemies.” 2004. Pages 93-94.
[4] Brzezinski, Matthew. “Bust and Boom: Six years before the September 11 attacks, Philippine police took down an al Qaeda cell that had been plotting, among other things, to fly explosives-laden planes into the Pentagon.”
Washington Post. December 30 2001. Page W09
[5] Lance Page 328, cited from Paul Thompson and the Center for Cooperative Research, the Terror Timeline, 2004, Page 14
[6] Paul Thompson and the Center for Cooperative Research, the Terror Timeline, 2004, Page 14
[7] CNN. “Terrorism trial begins in New York.” May 13, 1996. Accessed November 10, 2005 at:
[8] CNN. “Plane Terror Suspects Convicted on all Counts.” September 5, 1996. Acc. Nov. 9, 2005 at:


Anonymous said...

You should take a look at a video titled "9/11 Press for Truth." It is produced by some of the same people who did THE TERROR TIMELINE. It supports the case that "they let it happen" using mostly network news video and interviews with those seeking a full accounting. It is fascinating!

Caustic Logic said...

Yes, thank you. I'm aware of Paul Thompson and the CRR and the Jersey irls. They've done great work I've been following since 2002. I've not seen press for truth but I'm guessing I've already heard most of the arguments in it - I'm guessing Pakistan's ISI, various Saudis, Repub functionaries and as few Dems as possible are tied in.
Ultimately I don't quite buy the simple LIHOP interpreatation ala CCR - Though clearly the government let the attack happen, that doesn't mean we know WHO they were letting do it.

But thanks for the thought. I always appreciate comments. :)