Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Twin Towers Inquiry Makes Rapid Strides

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Twin Towers Inquiry Makes Rapid Strides

Article excerpt

THE investigation into the Feb. 26 bombing of the World Trade Center is still at an early stage. The search for suspects and motives goes on. Yet experts say progress so far already sends a strong message to potential terrorists.

"The important thing was that the various branches of government - local, state, and federal - show that the United States was going to treat this incident as seriously as an act of war, and they have," says Stephen Gillers, a professor of law at New York University. "The level of investigation has been about as high as it could be."

Robert Turner, associate director of the center for national security law at the University of Virginia, agrees that the US faced a clear need to respond quickly and firmly.

"I think it's important to send the message that the people who did it {planted the bomb} will not benefit from the experience," says Professor Turner, a past chairman of the American Bar Association's committee on law and national security. "This could have been the worst terrorist incident in modern history ... and if people believe the US is a sitting duck for terrorism, and can't do anything about it or is unwilling to use its resources to deal effectively with it, then I don't think this would be the end of it."

So far Mohammed Salameh and Nidal Ayyad, both Palestinians who live in New Jersey, are being held without bail on charges of "aiding and abetting". Another man, Ibrahim Elgabrawny of Brooklyn, was recently arrested for allegedly attacking law enforcement officials when they searched his apartment and is also suspected of involvement in the bombing. Authorities say an indictment against him is expected to be returned Wednesday.

Mr. Elgabrawny is a cousin of El Sayyid Nosair, the Muslim fundamentalist from Egypt who was acquitted of the 1990 murder of radical Rabbi Meir Kahane, but who is serving time in Attica state prison on lesser weapons charges. False Nicaraguan passports and birth certificates in Mr. Nosair's name were found in the search of Mr. Elgabrowny's apartment. …

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