“The Sept. 11 airline crashes were not the first attempt to topple the World Trade Center towers. In February 1993, a bomb blast in a public parking garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Center killed six people and left a crater six stories deep. It could have been much worse. In her book, “The War Against America: Saddam Hussein and the World Trade Center Attacks,” Laurie Mylroie says that the bomb was designed to topple the North Tower into the South Tower and envelop the scene in a cloud of cyanide gas. Hearing the case, Judge Kevin Duffy agreed, saying that if the plan had worked, “we would have been dealing with tens of thousands of deaths.” After the bombing, the FBI rounded up four Muslims who moved in extremist circles in the New York area. Three others escaped overseas: a Palestinian, an Iraqi named Abdul Yasin, and Ramzi Yousef.
Ms. Mylroie’s book argues that Iraq was complicit in this attack. At the very least, she notes, Saddam Hussein is harboring a wanted terrorist: Abdul Yasin. He came to the U.S. six months before the Trade Center attack and is charged with helping mix chemicals for the bomb. Picked up in an early sweep after the bombing, he talked his way out of an FBI interrogation and turned up back in Baghdad.
Beyond this, Ms. Mylroie contends that the bombing was “an Iraqi intelligence operation with the Moslem extremists as dupes.” She says that the original lead FBI official on the case, Jim Fox, concluded that “Iraq was behind the World Trade Center bombing.” In late 1993, shortly before his retirement, Mr. Fox was suspended by FBI Director Louis Freeh for speaking to the media about the case; he died in 1997. Ms. Mylroie says that Mr. Fox indicated to her that he did not continue to pursue the Iraq connection because Justice Department officials “did not want state sponsorship addressed.”
According to phone records analyzed by Ms. Mylroie, Abdul Yasin appeared in the orbit of one of U.S. conspirators, Muhammed Salameh, some weeks after Mr. Salameh made a series of phone calls to relatives in Iraq, including to his uncle, Kadri Abu Bakr. Mr. Bakr is a senior figure in the PLO’s “Western Sector” terrorist unit; at the very least, his phone calls would be monitored by Iraqi intelligence.
Ramzi Yousef also showed up after the calls to Mr. Bakr, according to Ms. Mylroie’s analysis. His arrival “transformed the conspiracy from a pipe bombing plot to an audacious attack on the World Trade Center.” Yousef was “the individual most responsible for building the World Trade Center bomb” — 1,200 pounds of urea nitrate with a nitroglycerine trigger, booster chemicals, sulfuric acid and sodium cyanide.
After the bombing, Yousef vanished; he had entered with an Iraqi passport, and exited with a Pakistani passport. Yousef’s Pakistani passport was in the name of Abdul Basit. He obtained it from the Pakistani consulate in New York shortly before the bombing, saying he had lost his passport and presenting photocopied pages from Abdul Basit’s 1984 and 1988 passports.
Ms. Mylroie says her evidence suggests that Abdul Basit and his family were among two dozen Pakistani nationals working in Kuwait who vanished at the time of the Iraqi invasion. Law enforcement authorities believe she overplays this possibility, that Yousef is indeed Basit, and that the original Iraqi passport is the only firm link to Iraq.”