Chapters 8

Meanwhile, the Iranians and the Syrians began testing the waters in the U.S. itself. Because these trial operations had to be deniable, Iranian and Syrian intelligence agencies started with the insertion of terrorist detachments, that if exposed, could not be associated with the Islamist networks. P. 340-41

In the late 1980s, Iran was the undisputed leader of international terrorism in the United States and Canada. Its Islamist terrorist infrastructure was by for the most comprehensive and capable in the world.

By the end of the decade, Iran and the U.S. were, in effect, involved in a very intense, yet secret, war in the Persian Gulf and Lebanon, where Syria was actively involved.The emerging Iranian-Syrian long-term terrorist strategy for operations in America was for a three-phase strategy based on a gradual escalation of terrorist strikes that would test the extent and effectiveness of the reaction of U.S. of the reaction of American law enforcement authorities. The three phases of the Iranian-Syrian long-term terrorist strategy were as follows:

  1. Use of local expendable assets to carry out operations while creating problems for the local security forces;
  2. Quality attacks by operatives already on-site, living off and gaining operational support from the locally-based dormant networks.
  3. Spectacular strikes, including suicide attacks, by specially placed expert terrorists in order to demonstrate the global reach of the Iran-led Muslim Bloc and to avenge the Muslim world.

The three main components of the tested and proved Islamist terrorist system are:

  1. The Iranian-HizbAllah predominantly Shi'ite network;
  2. The on-site elite operatives network based on various types of 'Afghans'; and
  3. The predominantly Sunni Islamist network living among the Islamist community in the U.S. and employing local assets, who were considered expendable.

In early 1993, virtually all the components of the Iranian controlled system have been tested and proven in both the first and second phases, so that the Islamist terrorist system is essentially ready for the escalation into the third phase of the terrorist struggle, that of spectacular strikes.

..For Tehran, terrorism is a primary instrument of state policy. The leaders of Iran consider their control over such organizations as the HizbAllah a real strategic asset. Although Tehran understood by 1986 that for the international Islamic Revolution to succeed it must be truly global in scope, it was not until the Iran-Iraq War was over that Iran was able to complete the deployment of a professional and sophisticated network aimed at political subversion and armed terror.

This network, tightly controlled by Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Ali Fallahiyan, and Muhsin Reza'I, remains at Tehran's disposal for whatever objective it chooses, at any time or place it decides to act.Indeed, by early 1989, the Iranian network in the U.S. was the most solid and dangerous of all terrorist networks. The desirable ratio of local Islamists and dormant expert terrorists had been acheived. A comprehensive support infrastructure manned by dedicated individuals was functioning. From among the 30,000 Iranian student population, Iran could count on some 1,000 militants to conduct terrorism. In addition, several dozens of expert terrorists were clandestinely deployed and ready to strike inside America. A few hundred of the militant Iranian students in the U.S. were organized to assist them or participate in such terrorist operations. A network of legal societies and foundations insured the flow of funds from, and safe communications with, Tehran. PP. 343-345

Within the context of the Iranian-Iraqi agreement on launching a terrorist campaign at the time of the Gulf Crisis, Tehran insisted on virtual control over the operations in the U.S. and Canada. Indeed, during the fall of 1990 there were active preparations inside the U.S. by several organizations sponsored by Iran and Syria, including the HizbAllah, for the launching of a "wave of terrorist strikes" once the war with Iraq ended. However, in early 1991, Tehran decided to disengage from the joint terrorist campaign and concentrate instead on furthering Iran's own interests. Consequently, terrorist strikes inside the U.S. by assets controlled by Tehran and Damascus were called off. PP. 349-350

In 1989, Mir Aimal Kansi made an unusual trip to Germany. He stayed there for only a month. This trip might have been a cover for a classic back door movement to Iran of highly sensitive cases. Since 1985, numerous Iranian agents/terrorists used this route to reach Iran. They would enter West Germany legally and then make an undocumented trip to Berlin. After crossing into East Berlin by subway, they would board a flight to Damascus and go on to Tehran without any need for travel documents. They would return to the West in the same manner.

Islamic cultural institutions in West Germany provided aibis for some of the more important agents/terrorists. Mir Aimal Kansi could have travelled to Syria and Iran in the same way, possible in order to receive advanced training in preparation for U.S. operations. PP. 361-362

In early 1986, Iran began approaching and ultimately recruiting prisoners who were still incarcerated. Iranian-supported front organizations made contact with disgruntled Black Muslim prisoners in all the major prisons in the U.S.

Shi'ite charities established small communes in various cities, including Washington, D.C., ostensibly for prisoners' rehabilitation, where recruitment is finalized. After brain-washing, the ex-prisoners swear allegiance to the Ayatollah Khomeini and volunteer for Jihad. They are then sent to Pakistan for training with the Islamist mujahideen and the ISI. The more promising are identified and sent for additional training in Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran. P. 365

In the fall of 1992, Turabi decided to further escalate operations in the U.S. Of the some $100 million allocated by Tehran as the initial budget for Turabi's Islamic Popular Arab Congress (Al-Mu'tamar al-Arabi al-Shabi al-Islami), a major portion is earmarked as an investment in the U.S. for consolidation of network and establishment of a center for publication and communication with groups everywhere through faxes and phones. These activities will be conducted through the establishment of a world-wide education and proselytization network under the cover of the Washington-based World Institute of Islamic Thought. P. 375

Sheikh Umar Abd-al-Rahman began preaching in the Masjid al-Salam in Jersey City, New Jersey, in May 1990, just about the time Al-Sayyid Abdulazzi Nossair was beginning to prepare for the killing of Rabbi Kahane.

The transformation of the Islamist communities in New York and New Jersey since the fall of 1990 because of Sheikh Umar Abk-al-Rahman, emerges as a textbook case of Islamic network building and consolidation.

During this period funds began to flow to al-Rahman from Iran via Germany.They took advantage of the main lesson learned from the Kikumura operation, namely, that one can get everything in the U.S. A major sabotage operation can be carried out with little or no need for smuggling tremendous amounts of explosives, especially the tell-tale plastiques.Most important was the identification, recruitment, and manipulation of the expendables, the local zealots who would actually carry out the operation and be sacrificed in the process. The preparation of expendables is a lengthy process, for it requires thorough psychological tempering and conditioning. The primary candidates are desparate drifters within the Islamic community who are yearning for revenge, overcommitted to the cause in principle. They must be susceptible to the influence of the spiritual leaders such as Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman. Their loyalty must be unquestionable, preferably reinforced through blood ties. In a! ddition, the recruiters search for people with usable skills who can be manipulated into shielding the real experts.

The search narrowed in the fall, as reflected in the emergence of financial arrangements. Numerous new bank accounts were opened, some jointly by the expendables, for their immediate use. Money was wired from Germany, a classic point of transfer from Iran, to New Jersey.

The terrorist leaders now needed a "bomb maker," another expendable, to shield the real experts by diverting the law enforcement investigators away form the pricipals in the aftermath of a terrorist strike. Nidal A. Ayyad is a young (25 years old) chemical engineer living in Maplewood, New Jersey, recently married and expecting his first child. Born in Kuwait of Palestinian descent, he is the main provider for an extended family he brought to the U.S. once he received his U.S. citizenship.

Ayyad was frustrated, in need of money, and thus an ideal "professional expendable." Moreover, Ayyad is a devout Islamist who has attended the New Jersey mosque since the early 1990s. Ayyad knew Salameh for about a year, befriended him and was eager to help. Their friendship might not have been spontaneous and Salameh may have targeted and entrapped Ayyad. By the end of 1992, Ayyad was committed. He had joint bank accounts with Salameh. He went with him to lease the van used in the planned attack. He provided the know-how in mixing the chemicals to make the explosives. To ensure his incrimination, Salameh repeatedly called Ayyad from the storage company site where the chemicals used for making the bomb were stored. The motive behind these calls was to create a kind of provocation that would tell the terrorist masters what kind of precautions and defensive measures the American authorities might be taking if they knew a skyscraper was going to be hit. Moreover, two false warnings were likely to influence the law enforcement authorities not to take any subsequent warnings seriously. Should there be a leak from the forthcoming operation, the reaction would most likely be muted. .The bomb was well placed because it knocked out the entire communications and fire control systems for the buildings, broke five of eight electrical feeder cables and caused a flood that drowned the back-up generators meant to handle any emergency.

Only an expert would know where to place such a bomb, how much explosives to use, and how to direct the blast-and-heat wave to cause maximum damage. Indeed, the logic behind the explosion, that of using the structure of the building to echo and reinforce the blast-and-heat wave, is characteristic of the bomb-making techniques taught in Iran. The same approach to designing and placing bombs was repeatedly used by HizbAllah-affiliated operations in Beirut and Buenos Aires.

Meanwhile, Salameh continued to follow his instructions. Because he had reported the van stolen, he approached the rental agency and insisted on having his $400 deposit returned. He continued to press for the return, even as the media hinted that part of the van were recovered. Salameh was arrested as he came to pick up the deposit. Traces of nitrate were found on the rental paper. That Salameh was arrested so quickly was "a case of dumb luck."

However, Salameh's entire behavior in the aftermath of the explosion clearly indicates that ultimately it was only a matter of time before he was caught and identified "He is either dumb or some kind of martyr," remarked one senior law enforcement official.

Salameh is a martyr. An illegal alien, he lived in complete anonymity, beyond the routine reach of the law. Had he not reported the van as stolen, the van would have been written off as one of the many vehicles stolen or lost on a daily basis. Moreover, he could have reported the van stolen to the Ryder Company, foregone the deposit, and still disappeared into anonymity. Salameh did not live at the address given. Because he was an illegal alien there were no traceable records of his life in the U.S.

Still, he insisted on getting back his deposit, even registering the van as stolen with the police and attracting undue attention to himself. This is a form of behavior most unbecoming a veteran of more than four years of living as an illegal alien. Salameh is not stupid. He was following his instructions to the letter. His true role was to be captured so that the Islamics could transform his trial into a politicized show trial demonstrating the American conspiracies against Islam.

By now, the expert terrorists, the "masterminds" had long gone. Most likely, they escaped safely to the Middle East. An investigator believed the terrorist masters "left him (Salameh) behind as a signature. Maybe it was their game plan all along to leave him behind." With this in mind, the plan to attract attention to Salameh "worked perfectly" for the expert terrorists got away.

On March 6, once Salameh was arrested, Tehran began a propaganda blitz about the New York bombing. The overriding theme was the blaming of Muslims, Islamists and even Iran for the bombing was all part of a conspiracy aimed at inciting the West to embark on an anti-Islamic Crusade.

Ultimately, while Iran, Syria, Sudan and their allies control the most effective international terrorist networks in the United States, the extent of their ability to sustain operations and strike repeatedly largely depends on the Islamist communities with which they seek shelter.

...These very acts of terrorism testify to the existence of a vibrant Islamist communal structure in the U.S. identical to that of numerous Islamist communities in Western Europe that have been harboring, supporting, and recruiting Islamist terrorists, both individuals and networks. Now that the masters of Islamist international terrorism have given the order to strike, there should be no doubt that the bombing of the World Trade Center was, indeed, only the beginning. PP. 380-395

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