Magazine article Insight on the News

FBI Missed Red Flags about Terrorists' Plans

Magazine article Insight on the News

FBI Missed Red Flags about Terrorists' Plans

Article excerpt

"Project Bojinka," which was disclosed by Accuracy in Media on Sept. 13, made the front page of the Washington Post 10 days later. The Post's story, written by four of its reporters in Manila, reported that in 1995 Philippine police discovered a plan "that gave a chilling preview of the attack in New York and Washington on September 11." It said that they found "a clandestine terrorist cell allied with Osama bin Laden" that was plotting to plant bombs in a dozen American airliners and fly an airplane into CIA headquarters.

The Post quoted a Filipino investigator as exclaiming, "It's Bojinka!" as he watched the attacks on the World Trade Center on television on Sept. 11. The inspector told reporters, "We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?" The Post did not identify the investigator, but the quotations are similar to remarks made to Philippine reporters by Chief Police Superintendent Avelino Razon.

He told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the Philippine-intelligence report was passed on to the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Joint Task Force on Terrorism. He explained: "It was not given credibility; otherwise, it could have prevented the destruction of the World Trade Center." He explained, "Bojinka called for

the hijacking of U.S. commercial airliners, bombing them or crashing them into several targets, including the CIA." The few stories about Bojinka in the U.S. press have mentioned only the CIA as a target and have said nothing about hijacking airliners and crashing them.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on Terrorism in February 1998, "Bojinka" -- which means "big bang" -- was described by Dale L. Watson, chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section of the FBI, only as a plot to blow up "numerous U.S. air carriers." He said that the FBI had identified "a significant and growing organizational presence" of foreign terrorists in the United State. He swore the bureau had them under control. He claimed that as a result of the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 the FBI had developed an "enhanced capability" to track terrorist activities. Watson testified that the information about Bojinka was obtained from the laptop computer of Ramzi Yousef, who was in charge of the operation. …

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