Cover Up (FrontPageMagazine.com) By Jamie Glazov 01/27/05)
Front Page Magazine.com
Front Page Magazine.com Articles-Index-Top
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Peter Lance, a five-time Emmy-
winning investigative reporter and author of the bestselling 1000
Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI -- The Untold
Story. He is the author of the new book Cover Up: What the Government
Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror.
FP: Mr. Lance, welcome to Frontpage Interview
Lance: Great to be talking with you.
FP: What motivated you to write this book?
Lance: Cover Up began as an effort to answer the two big unanswered
questions left after I had finished 1000 Years of Revenge. To get an
overview of my findings in that book, your readers can sample the 32
page illustrated Timeline from 1000 YEARS at my website
Like the book, the Timeline goes back 12 years to 1989 and traces al
Qaeda´s treacherous development of the 9/11 plot, focusing primarily
on the how the New York office of the FBI (NYO) the Osama bin
Laden "office of origin," failed repeatedly to interdict the plot.
The two big questions, which I sought to answer at the end of that
1) Why did the U.S. Justice Department ignore probative evidence from
the Philippines National Police (PNP) in 1995 that Ramzi Yousef, the
original World Trade Center bomber, had conspired with his uncle
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) as early as 1994 to set in motion the
plot that culminated on 9/11?
In the spring of 1995, Col. Rodolfo B. Mendoza, a leading PNP
investigator who had interrogated Yousef´s lifelong friend and co-
conspirator, Abdul Hakim Murad, gave the U.S. Embassy in Manila
evidence that Yousef and KSM already had chosen had six targets: the
WTC, The Pentagon, CIA HQ at Langley, VA, The Sears Tower in Chicago,
the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco and an unnamed nuclear
Col. Mendoza also had evidence that up to 10 Islamic radicals were
then training in U.S. flight schools. This was 1995.
I found FBI NO/FORN memos from that year proving that the Bureau had
this intelligence, but they dropped the ball. I wanted to find out
It should be noted that the detailed intelligence from Col. Mendoza
was for a plot involving the hijacking of airliners that was
completely distinct from the Bojinka plot in which Yousef, KSM, Murad
and a 4th conspirator, Wali Kahn Amin Shah, planned to plant Casio
watch powered-nitroglycerine bomb triggers aboard up to a dozens U.S.
jumbo jets exiting Asia with U.S. tourists.
That plot went way beyond the initial plane to hijack a small plane
and fly it, laden with explosives, into CIA Headquarters, an early
scenario which Murad had discussed with Col. Mendoza in the early
days of his 67 day interrogation. Yousef had even undertaken a "west
test" bombing of a Casio Nitro device which he planted under a seat
in the 26th row of Philippine Airlines Flight #434 on the morning of
December 11, 1994.
Planted on the first leg of a two-leg flights, Yousef got on board,
pieced together the apparently innocuous components of the bomb and
exited the flight after hiding it in the life jacket pouch below seat
26K. He mistakenly believed that the center wing fuel tank of the 747-
100 began at the 26th row.
In fact that tank runs below the 17th to 25th rows. So Yousef was a
few feet two short.
Nonetheless, after he exiting, while PAL #434 was heading toward
Japan, his device exploded with such force that it blew a hole in the
passenger floor and killed Haruki Ikegami, a 24 year old Japanese
national in seat 26 K.
The heroic pilot was able to get the plane on the ground. But now
Yousef knew that if he and his cohorts merely moved the devices
FORWARD a few rows, the downward blast would ignite the fuel tanks,
turning the jumbo jets into flying bombs. They intended to do this on
up to 12 flights when they had a fire in their Manila bomb factory on
the night of January 6th, 1995 and the Bojinka plot was foiled.
However, at the same time that they plotted Bojinka (and a third plot
to kill the Pope who was to arrive in Manila in early January 1995)
Yousef and KSM had well in motion the hijack-airliners-fly-them-into-
buildings scenario that culminated on 9/11.
Col. Mendoza, who was the Richard Clarke of The Philippines, when it
came to his knowledge of Islamic radicalism, was very clear with the
U.S. government and warned our officials in in the spring of 1995 of
that PRECISE plot which unfolded six years later.
The Justice Department seemingly failed to pursued this extraordinary
warning and I wanted to know why.
2) The second question left unanswered, when I had finished my first
book, was why did the FBI and Justice Dept. treat the hunt for KSM so
differently than the public hunt for his nephew -- which had
successfully brought Yousef to ground?
Yousef was arrested in early February, 1995 in a bin Laden controlled
guesthouse in Islamabad, Pakistan after a tip to the U.S. State
Department from an informant that Yousef had recruited. This young
South African (Istaique Parker) wanted the $2 million reward being
offered under a program called Rewards for Justice that was the
brainchild of the late Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent
During the two years since Yousef had fled New York on the night of
the first WTC attack (February 26th, 1993) he had been the object of
a worldwide public manhunt. Newsweek ran stories with banner
headlines like The World’s Most Wanted and the State Dept. even
printed posters touting the $2 million reward on matchbook covers
that they circulated by the thousands through the middle east.
Parker finally gave up Yousef, but the day he was arrested by DSS and
DEA agents on February 7, 1995, I recounted in my first book, how an
FBI agent got to the 20 room guesthouse late and blew a chance to
grab Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was staying in a ground floor room.
In fact, KSM was so audacious that he gave an interview to Time
magazine on the Yousef takedown using his own name "Khalid Shaikh."
But by the time FBI agent Brad Garrett got there KSM was gone.
This didn´t stop Garrett from participating in a 60 Minutes II story
in the fall of 2001 in which he took false credit for the Yousef
Meanwhile, back in 1995, rather than doing a Wild West style
worldwide search using the same rewards posters that had brought
Yousef down, the Justice Dept. changed tack. For unknown reasons they
indicted KSM along with Yousef in 1996 but kept the indictment sealed
and his name from the press.
The first mention of KSM came on the inside "jump" page of a New York
Times story in Janaury, 1998, on the day after Yousef was sentenced
in the Southern District of New York for both the WTC and Bojinka
plots. The story covering the sentencing had a cryptic reference to
one "Khalad Shaikh" believed to be a relative of Yousef´s.
By this time -- by all accounts -- KSM was well into executing the
The question was, why didn´t the Justice Dept. and the FBI make his
name public immediately in 1995 when they received evidence from Col.
Mendoza that KSM had conspired with his nephew Ramzi to hijack
airliners and fly them into buildings? Why seal the indictment and
why not make KSM the subject of the same kind of public international
dragnet that captured Yousef?
The Feds made a big deal out of grabbing the overweight, bug eyed KSM
in March of 2003 in Pakistan, but by my reckoning they had blown at
least two chances to grab him earlier before all those people died on
9/11 -- once in 1995 the day Yousef was caught and later in 1996 when
the Feds learned KSM was in Doha, Qatar, and cooled their heels
waiting while a Qatari official spirited him out of the country to
the Czech Republic.
In any case, I got the answer to both of my questions as I was
research book two: Cover Up.
FP: In Cover Up, you show that the government has covered up its own
counter-terror failures. Tell us a bit about these.
Lance: The second half of Cover Up is a painstaking analysis of the
9/11 Commission and it´s effective whitewash. I go into great detail
with evidence of how
-the Commission was hopelessly skewed on both the right and the left;
-how the staff was riddled with conflicts of interest -- almost half
of the staff members were alumni of the very intelligence agencies
they were asked to judge;
-how both Democrats and Republicans, cherry picked evidence and
limited the scope of the investigation to 1998 forward in order -- I
believe -- to ignore the culpability of the FBI, CIA and other
agencies for failing to stop Osama bin Laden´s 12 year juggernaut;
-how, in effect, the fix was in on this Commission from day one --
there was an intentional decision to limit the damage across three
presidential administrations and eliminate ANY accountability or
blame for what I call the biggest intelligence failure since The
The second half of the book chronicles this whitewash and focuses
particularly on Dietrich Dieter Snell, the former Asst. U.S. Attorney
(AUSA) who co-prosecuted Yousef in the 1996 Bojinka case.
Snell, who could have answered both of the questions left over at the
end of my first book, should have been a WITNESS before the 9/11
Commission, but instead they hired him as Senior Counsel and one of
the Team Leaders.
It was Snell who took my "testimony" after I "testified" before the
Commission on March 15th, 2004. When I showed up in the closed door
conference room at 26 Federal Plaza (the same building that houses
the FBI´s NYO) Snell was accompanied by Marco Cordero, an FBI agent
on loan to the Commission.
No stenographer was present, nor was there a recording device. Snell,
merely pulled out a small notebook and started jotting down notes. I
was warned ahead of time, by a source inside the Commission that more
than 90% of the witness intake was anecdotal like this -- that the
image of people like Condi Rice delivering sworn testimony in open
session -- was more of an aberration.
Anyway, later in this interview you´ll understand what it sham it was
for somebody like Dieter Snell to take my "testimony." In my mind he
was one of the fixers, hired early on to sanitize the Commission´s
FP: Briefly illuminate for us the story of terror mastermind Ramzi
Yousef and TWA 800.
Lance: The first half of Cover Up is the most explosive. I present
probative evidence that the crash of TWA #800 on July 17th, 1996
which killed 230 people, was an al Qaeda act of terror -- a bombing
that was effectively the second biggest mass murder in U.S. history.
I prove this using the FBI´s own documents: #302 memos, and, for the
first time I shatter the FBI/NTSB K-9 theory -- the only explanation
for the presence of high explosive residue in the wreckage absent a
I had eluded to this in 1000 Years of Revenge -- along with a
chapter, by the way, which linked Ramzi Yousef and KSM via Terry
Nichols to the Oklahoma City bombing.
This was long before Jayna Davis´ intriguing book The Third Terrorist
which was the object of one of your earlier interviews. She agrees
with me on the Yousef-Nichols connection, but we disagree as to
Yousef´s paymaster. She suggests it was Iraq. I say OBL and furnish
proof in the form of evidence showing that Yousef´s Manila cell was
financed directly by bin Laden via his Saudi brother in law Mohammed
However, in 2003, in neither case -- OKC or TWA #800 did I have the
level of evidence I uncovered in the Spring of 2004. Much of it is in
the pages of Cover Up or on my website under FBI #302´s.
FP: Can you give us some of the specifics?
Lance: In the weeks prior to the downing of TWA 800 the FBI was
alerted by Colombo crime family member Gregory Scarpa Jr. that Ramzi
Yousef -- who was in a cell next to Scarpa Jr. at New York’s
Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) -- was arranging to have his
al Qaeda cohorts plant a bomb aboard a U.S. airliner. The reason? To
provoke a mistrial in the Bojinka case, the first of two federal
trials facing Yousef.
Yousef even shared with Scarpa the intricate details of his schematic
of the same Casio-nitro bomb trigger device, he had placed aboard PAL
#434 in December 1994.
Keep in mind that had the Bojinka plot been fufilled, up to a dozen
U.S. jumbo jets would have had their center wing fuel tanks blown
apart by Casio watch-nitroglycerine bomb triggers placed in the life
jacket pouches of seats located over the tanks.
Yousef´s only mistake with PAL #434 was in bomb placement, not bomb
Now, in the spring of 1996, weeks prior to Yousef’s trial for the
Bojinka plot, the bomb maker began sending elaborate notes and bomb
schematics to inmate Scarpa—who -- unknown to Yousef -- had begun
working as an informant for the FBI, and passed them on to his Bureau
His original motivation was to get some downward release time on his
sentence if convicted in the RICO trial he was facing.
Over the next 11 months from March, 1996 to February, 1997, Scarpa
Jr. delivered dozens of copies or photographs of Yousef´s notes which
the FBI then summarized in their own internal #302 memos.
One note, in which Yousef told Scarpa Jr. that the high explosive RDX
could be substituted for nitroglycerine was titled “How to Smuggle
Explosives Into An Airplane.” Both the sketch and the note are
reproduced in Cover Up and at peterlance.com under FBI #302s.
As proven by these heretofore secret #302 memos also reproduced in
the book, Scarpa’s intelligence warned the Feds of Yousef’s impending
bomb-on-board plot to effect a mistrial.
Worse yet, the Bureau may have facilitated the TWA 800 disaster, by
setting up a third party “patch through” system that allowed Yousef
to make outside calls. We know that one of the al Qaeda cohorts he
reached was KSM, the one remaining Bojinka conspirator at large who
knew how to build the Casio-nitro device.
Then, just as the most damning evidence was being entered by federals
prosecutors at Yousef’s trial, TWA 800 an identical 747-100 to the
PAL 434 aircraft flight, exploded off Long Island.
The next day Yousef demanded a mistrial -- just as he had told Scarpa
Jr. he would.
In the days that followed, as the FBI recovered 96 percent of the
plane´s wreckage, Bureau agents found the high explosives RDX, PETN,
and nitroglycerine in the area of the 17-25 rows near the center fuel
Keep in mind that nitroglycerine was the essential explosive of
Yousef´s original Casio-nitro device and RDX was an explosive Yousef
had told Scarpa Jr. could be substituted for nitro.
By all accounts, the fuel tank’s explosion was the cause of the
crash. The only question was: What triggered it?
The FBI was prepared to declare the crash an act of sabotage. Yet on
August 22, 1996, Justice Dept. officials emerged from a high-level
Washington meeting and did a complete reversal which led the FBI to
side instead with the NTSB.
FP: Why did the Justice Dept. make this turn-around?
Lance: The National Transportation Safety Board, almost from day one
in the investigation had pushed mechanical failure as the cause. They
steadfastly held to this theory even -- though not a shred of
forensic evidence was found to support their premise -- that a low
voltage spark had somehow ignited jet fuel fumes in the center wing
In the billions of airlines flown by the 747 there had NEVER been a
spontaneous fuel tank ignition.
But in the end, the FBI caved in and sided with the NTSB´s
unsupported mechanical theory.
Why? As I point out in great detail, using Greg Scarpa Jr. as the
Feds’ key prosecution witness in the indictment of Ramzi Yousef for
the crash of TWA #800 would have meant declaring the mobster credible.
This would have had the effect of derailing a series of Mafia cases
that hung on the false testimony of Greg Jr.´s father, Gregory Scarpa
Sr; a notorious Colombo family killer.
Up to 60 Colombo prosecutions in the Eastern District of New York,
would have, in the words of one federal judge "unravelled." The feds
had invested years and millions of dollars in these cases. Careers of
various DOJ and FBI officials hung in the balance.
So, knowing that with both convictions, they would put Yousef away
for multiple life sentences -- he ultimately got 240 years -- the
Feds made an ends/means decision.
They decided to bury the treasure trove of al Qaeda intelligence
which Scarpa Jr. had risked his life to get.
Despite not a single homicide conviction, he was sentenced to 40
years for RICO violations. Compare this to Sammy The Bull Gravano who
got just 5 years after killing 19 people.
The Feds ended up calling Greg Jr.´s intel from Yousef -- material
with details that NO WISEGUY ever could have known -- a "hoax" and "a
They allowed a Supervisory Special Agent in the New York office who
had been involved in a corrupt relationship with Greg´s father to
retire with a full pension after he had taken the Fifth and
answered "I don´t recall" 44 times following a grant of immunity.
This was a scandal that would have made the corrupt relationship in
Boston between fugitive New England crime boss Whitey Bulger and his
FBI handler look like a Disney movie in comparison.
So the FBI came up with the ridiculous theory that the explosives in
the TWA #800 wreckage -- which mirrored the forensic evidence from
Yousef´s PAL #434 bomb -- got there as a result of a K-9 test
conducted five weeks earlier while the fatal aircraft was sitting at
the end of Concourse C at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
The intent of the officer was to qualify a bomb sniffing dog by
placing explosive test aids around the empty aircraft and allowing
the dog to retrieve them.
In order for their theory to wash, the K-9 officer would have had to
have been grossly negligence and spilled large quantities of the test
aids which he spread out in a zigzag pattern around the 747 in order
to test the dog. Further, these explosives would have had to survive
weeks under water as the plane´s wreckage lay in Long Island Sound
and survived a power cleaning of the wreckage once it was retrieved
by the U.S. Navy.
The amazing thing is that once the FBI floated this K-9 theory
everybody bought it -- the New York Times, Newsday, which later won a
Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the TWA #800 crash -- they all
Nobody -- not even the FBI which had 1,000 agents on Long Island sent
anybody to St. Louis to interview the K-9 officer whose name was
Herman Burnett. Nobody from any of the New York media sent a reporter
to talk to him.
The FBI simply declared that this alleged "negligence" by the officer
was the explanation for the presence of nitro, PETN and RDX in the
area of the center fuel tank -- an area precisely where it would have
been if Ramzi Yousef´s Casio-Nitro bomb had detonated.
Nobody seemed to question the fact that the officer Burnett never
even used nitroglycerine in his K-9 test. This incredible story
simply held all of these years until -- I went to St. Louis and
interviewed Herman Burnett, a seasoned veteran of the St. Louis
Not only did he insist that he had spilled NO explosive residue the
day he had conducted the test, but the evidence which I uncovered
PROVES that he did the test on a different 747-100 than the one that
became TWA #800.
In effect, I´ve shattered the FBI/NTSB´s only explanation for the
presence of high explosives in the TWA #800 wreckage absent a bomb.
But back in the fall of 1996, the fix was in and a series of high
level DOJ officials of the Clinton Justice Department went on as if
it were business as usual, sweeping under the rug, I believe, the
biggest act of al Qaeda terror prior to 9/11.
FP: What´s the significance of all this at this point?
Lance: The incredible Yousef-Scarpa intelligence from 1996 proves the
-that al Qaeda had an active cell in New York City as early as 1996 --
something that contradicts Condi Rice´s testimony before the 9/11
Commission that they possessed no "actionable intelligence" of an al
Qaeda presence on U.S. soil between the 1993 WTC bombing and 9/11;
-that the FBI could have grabbed Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in 1996 as he
plotted the 9/11 attacks. For a contribution of just $2,500.00 more
to his commissary account at the MCC, Yousef had offered to put
Scarpa´s "people" who he believed to be mobsters, in touch with
his "people," one of whom was KSM then residing in Qatar. But the
Feds failed to take Yousef up on his offer and another opportunity
-that as early as 1996 Osama bin Laden intended to hijack planes in
order to free blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman -- one of the spiritual
driving forces for the 9/11 plot. This intelligence contained in a
Scarpa-Yousef FBI #302 predated identical warnings which showed up in
Presidential Daily Briefings to President Clinton in 1998 and the
famous August 6, 2001 Crawford, Texas, PDB to President Bush.
-hat KSM and al Qaeda may have had a role in the June, 1996 Khobar
Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia which was blamed on Iranian members of
-that Yousef and his al Qaeda cell had an Iranian connection -- not
necessarily with the government in Teheran, but certainly with
elements, including his own family members living in the Iranian
section of Baluchistan -- an Islamic radical no man´s land where
Yousef and KSM have their roots.
By the way in a speech last fall at Claremont, College in California,
9/11 Commission, John Lehman, the former Secretary of the Navy, let
it slip that intelligence indicated that Baluchistan is where OBL was
What all of this proves is that in an effort to preserve a series of
mob prosecutions and, perhaps cover up for their own unwitting
complicity in the down of TWA #800 (by connecting Yousef and KSM) the
FBI and Justice Department hid a treasure trove of intel about al
Qaeda´s ACTIVE role in New York City in 1996 and their complicity in
the second biggest act of terror in U.S. history.
Further these actions explain why -- in failing to stop KSM in 1995
and 1996 the DOJ sealed his name and kept the hunt for him secret
until early January of 1998 when the 9/11 plot was well in motion.
The DOJ/FBI cover up in the late summer of 1996 also explains why
lead intelligence officials apparently blew an opportunity to pursue
the evidence of Col. Mendoza from the Philippines in 1995.
By 1996 it was in the interest of senior DOJ and FBI officials to
minimize the importance of Ramzi Yousef as the architect of the 9/11
plot. First, they had him incarcerated and possessed enough evidence
to put him away for 240 years. But more importantly, they didn´t want
the full story to come out about how the FBI could have stopped
Yousef in the fall of 1992 prior to his first date with the Trade
This was heavily documented in 1000 Years for Revenge.
If your readers just go to peterlance.com and read that 32 page color
Timeline they will be blown away at how many opportunities the FBI
had to stop Ramzi Yousef -- before the ´93 bombing, before the ´95
Bojinka plot where he killed a 24 year old Japanese man in his "wet
test," in 1996 before he conspired with his uncle to put a bomb
aboard TWA #800 killing 230 and many years before 9/11 when almost
3,000 died in New York as a result of Yousef´s fiendish plan.
On the night of 9/11 -- it was 13 hours ahead in the Philippines. As
Col. Mendoza sat working on a report he got an text message on his
Nokia cell phone. It said, "urgent turn on CNN." When he did, only to
see the South Tower fall, the first words out of his mouth when he
called backed his friend were "They have done it. They have DONE
it..." That´s how certain he was that Yousef´s plot exposed to him by
Murad in 1995 -- which he had warned the Feds about in the spring of
1995 -- had been executed.
FP: How does all of this tie in to the 9/11 Commission?
FP: Do you remember Dietrich Dieter Snell, the AUSA who was the co-
prosecutor on the Bojinka case. Well, an FBI #302 memo from 3/7/96 on
my website shows that he was a direct party to all of the Scarpa-
Yousef intelligence on TWA #800. Yet in early April, 2004 when
forensic investigators Angela Clemente and Dr. Stephen Dresch,
presented these #302´s to the 9/11 Commission, not a word of any of
this showed up in their final report published in late July, 2004.
The report nominated for The National Book Award.
Understand the significance of this. Here is evidence from the FBI´s
own files of al Qaeda involvement in the second biggest act of terror
in U.S. history and the 9/11 Commission -- lead by investigators like
Dieter Snell, flushes it all.
Furthermore, Snell took all of the evidence from Col. Mendoza in the
Philippines, which I presented following my testimony to the
Commission in March, 2004 -- evidence which sets the genesis of the
plot with Yousef and KSM in the fall of 1994 and he reduced it all to
a end note at the end the book pushing the genesis of the plot
FORWARD to 1996 and claiming that KSM had acted alone and that only
recently had he joined al Qaeda.
My authority was Col. Rodolfo Mendoza, the man who interrogated Abdul
Hakim Murad for 67 days. I sent the 9/11 Commission a transcript of
my interview with the colonel in March, 2002, the video tape of the
interview and multiple declassified PNP memos showing that all of the
Yousef-KSM Manila plots 9n 1995-95 -- Bojinka, the plot to kill the
Pope and the plot executed on 9/11 -- were funded directly by OBL via
his brother in law.
But Dietrich Snell´s source for the genesis of the plote in 1996 --
two years later -- in which an alleged lone KSM came up with the
plan -- was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed himself.
To me this is like quoting David Berkowitz on the origin of his first
Son of Sam murder.
In other parts of the 9/11 Report in which KSM is quoted, they note
that his handlers paraphrased Churchill in reference to KSM and
stated that much of his testimony is accompanied by "a bodyguard of
But Dietrich Snell had the last word.
By the way -- if you want the ultimate irony -- 9/11 Citizens Watch
and several other truth organizations, fed up with the final 9/11
Commission Report have petitioned New York Attorney General Eliott
Spitzer -- perceived by many as one of the few uncompromising
prosecutors in America -- with a request to re-open the 9/11
On the January 10th edition of New York Magazine, Spitzer stands,
arms folded, at the head of a human arrow created by the standing
members of his staff.
The headline asks the question: Is Eliot Spitzer Untouchable?
If you look on the cover to Spitzer´s extreme right you´ll see that
the man standing defiantly, with his arms folded, is one of his key
staff members: Dietrich Dieter Snell.
FP: Mr. Lance, thank you for joining us today.
Lance: I admire the work you are doing at frontpagemag.com. As
Justice Learned Hand, late of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals
(aka "The Tenth Justice) used to say, "from a multitude of tongues,
comes the truth." (©2005 FrontPageMagazine.com 01/27/05)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY