Parry: Press mum on how Clinton succeeded twice in thwarting planned terrorist attacks

The Training-Wheel President

By Robert Parry
May 20, 2002

Major national news outlets are continuing to coddle George W. Bush even as new disclosures show that Bush and his senior advisers failed to respond effectively to warnings last year about Osama bin Laden’s plans to attack the United States

[Unlike their coddling of Bush] The press also has done little to bring into focus how the Clinton administration succeeded twice in thwarting planned terrorist attacks by bin Laden operatives on U.S. soil, while the Bush administration failed.

In 1995, Abdul Hakim Murad, a Pakistani terrorist tied to bin Laden, was arrested in the Philippines and admitted under interrogation coordinated with the FBI and CIA that he planned to use pilot training in the United States to fly an explosives-packed plane into CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Murad was convicted in New York on other charges that he had plotted to hijack and destroy 12 American jumbo jets over the Pacific Ocean. [NYT, May 18, 2002]

That case tipped off the U.S. government to the possibility that al-Qaeda operatives were considering the use of their own pilots to hijack planes and crash them into targets. Citing the Murad case, a 1999 report for the CIA's National Intelligence Council said "suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, (CIA), or the White House." [Washington Post, May 18, 2002]

Later in 1999, prior to the millennial celebrations, a plot to bomb targets in Los Angeles and New York was stopped when an alert customs agent caught a terrorist infiltrating from Vancouver, Canada. The arrest of Ahmed Ressam touched off a rapid reaction from the Clinton administration, which tracked down Ressam's accomplices and broke up the planned attacks. The millennial celebrations proceeded peacefully.

At other times -- after attacks on U.S. targets overseas -- Clinton ordered the firing of missiles at targets in Africa and Afghanistan, including one attack that apparently narrowly missed killing bin Laden. Republicans and Washington commentators, however, mocked Clinton for playing “wag the dog,” cheap tricks to distract public attention from the Republican efforts to impeach him.

The Consortium


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