Fire On The Water: TWA 800
(Excerpted from "The Medusa File" by Craig Roberts)
A controller working Departure Control at John F. Kennedy International Airport saw it first: something on the radar screen that shouldn't be there. Near the "target" blip of a TWA 747 that had just taken off from JFK a few minutes before, which now winged its way over the Atlantic paralleling the coast as it climbed toward its cruising altitude, was another blip. The controller examined the scope, wondering if there was another aircraft in the area that might pose a hazard to the TWA jet since the secondary target was not "squawking" a transponder code, which meant it was not under control of any air control facility, and it seemed to be moving rapidly toward the big transport as the big Boeing joined its designated course for Paris.
Then, before any more analysis could take place in the FAA control room, something happened to the tiny double-bar radar blip that was designated TWA flight 800.
The coastal residents of East Moriches, Long Island, first noticed something in the sky when there was a sound that some later described as "fireworks" over the ocean. Looking up, many noticed that there was a small glowing ball of reddish-orange light high over the ocean. Closer examination showed it to be an airplane. But something was wrong with it.
As they watched, they saw the small glow become engulfed by a huge fireball. Then, what was curiosity at first rapidly became a state of shock for some and horror for others as the airplane seemed to break up into two large flaming "comets" and fall for several horrifying seconds until it hit the surface of the ocean. Many could not believe what they had just witnessed, but the lake of fire that floated on the surface of the sea proved that the nightmare was reality.
Hundreds of witnesses along the shoreline and in boats later reported what they had seen. A fisherman recalled that when he looked up what he saw "...started off like a little ball, like a flare. It came down for a few seconds and all of a sudden burst into flames, a big ball of flame."
An unidentified man said that he "...saw a big fireball with pieces coming off of it. I heard two big explosions, like two big firecrackers going off."
A New York Air National Guard colonel flying a C-130 nearby caught the 747 just after the second explosion. He reported that he witnessed "...two large orange fireballs. They looked like comets, coming straight down into the water."
An unidentified woman interviewed by reporters saw more: "There was a loud explosion, which was followed by a fireball. The plane literally dropped out of the sky...and it hit the ocean, sort of like the space shuttle [Challenger] did, and there were five more explosions."
Vic Fehner, a fisherman, said "it started off like a little ball, like a flare. It came down for a few seconds and all of a sudden burst into flames, a big ball of flame."
Jason Fontana, who was standing at John Scott's Raw Bar in Westhampton Beach, saw "a big fireball with pieces coming off of it. You heard two big explosions, like two big firecrackers going off."
Craig Squires, surfing when the plane blew up: "I looked up and saw a trail of fire, and then it disappeared, and I heard an explosion.
Finally, Eileen Daly, a local resident, summed up what many saw and felt when she said, "My first reaction is fireworks, then 'Oh my God, it's an airplane.'"
Almost immediately boats began racing toward the impact area, which was easily marked by a virtual lake of fire as tons of fuel burned on the surface of the water. Residents raced to their telephones and began dialing police, the fire departments of the various beach towns, ambulances, and the Coast Guard. At the same time radio calls began to fill the air waves requesting assistance in search and rescue operations. Like any accident scene, no one seemed to know exactly what had happened, but everyone began trying to do what they could to notify authorities to lend help.
Among the first of hundreds of rescue craft, airplanes, ships and helicopters to reach the site was a U.S. Coast Guard plane practicing search-and-rescue operations nearby, whose pilot witnessed the horrific crash and immediately circled the area, identifying the wreckage and reporting back to his commanders.
Two other aircraft quickly joined the search: an Air National Guard C-130 that had been conducting a "flare dropping exercise" nearby—and ostensibly was the same C-130 whose crew that witnessed the tragedy—and a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion submarine hunter who reportedly heard the radio traffic regarding the explosion and offered to assist.
Rescue craft began arriving immediately, consisting mainly of boat-owning local residents, fishermen and Coast Guard cutters. According to media reports "six Coast Guard helicopters and cutters" joined the search, and throughout the night other vessels arrived to lend assistance in searching for victims, recovering bodies, and eventually recovering wreckage.
By the next morning, Thursday, July 18, 73 bodies had been pulled out of the water. Unlike KAL-007, where no bodies were recovered, many were found floating in the area—none of which wore a life jacket! Many of the bodies had been badly burned, some beyond recognition.
One private boat that arrived early on the scene found among the debris a yellow TWA life vest, inflated and buckled...but no body. According to Jimmy Vaccaro, who hooked the empty jacket into his boat, "It was inflated and it was buckled. These things don't light and inflate by themselves—you have to pull on it or blow through the tube." The reference to a "light" may be to a strobe light attached to the vest that had been activated. This discovery lended credence to an observation that some of the passengers had time to reach for life jackets before they died—but not enough time to put them on. Evidently one such individual inflated the jacket before trying to pull it on, or the CO2 cartridge activation lanyard had somehow snagged on something after being pulled from under the seat and inflated before the jacket could be donned.
The Coast Guard said none of the bodies recovered wore life preservers, suggesting that the explosion came without warning and there was no time to pull out life vests before impact.
As fishermen and other local residents helped recover the bodies of the victims, a temporary morgue was set up near the beach near the little town of East Moriches close to the crash site. As this was being accomplished, local officials cautioned residents to report any wreckage or bodies washing ashore in the next day or so, but not to touch anything that may serve as evidence that could explain what made the jumbo jet suddenly disintegrate into the darkness.
Of note regarding the wreckage and flotsam that was being found along the beach was a special notification from federal officials on the 18th that if anyone came upon any boxes on the beach, not to open or tamper with them because there were two boxes of AIDS-infected blood unaccounted for. No one in the media seemed to ask the sources why anyone would be shipping AIDS-infected blood anywhere, nor was this event followed up on later. In fact, only a short mention was made in the media when CNN aired the statement of a pool reporter who was aboard a Coast Guard 33-foot rescue boat who said that the boat crew retrieved several State Department pouches and seven packages that were labeled as HIV-infected blood (Biohazard)—plus instructions on how to use the blood to infect children! Though these alleged "instructions" were not displayed on camera, it should be noted that one of the victims on the flight was the son of the president of a French pharmaceutical firm, Merieux, who is one of the leading researchers in AIDS. It is also pertinent to note that this same firm had earlier been accused of desiring to use unwilling human test subjects, including military personnel, as guinea pigs for their vaccine experiments. None of this seemed to trigger questions in the national media regarding the finding of the blood. The crash itself was the story.
Almost immediately a media feeding frenzy ensued concerning the cause of the explosion. The major networks scurried about, madly racing to interview any think tank or terrorism "expert" they could find. As a sample, among the interviews conducted and broadcast nationwide to explain what "probably" happened were:
James Donoghue, editor-in-chief of Air Transport Magazine, who said "It's got the hallmarks of a bombing, but it could be all kinds of things. Of the number of 747s that have descended in flames, the vast majority have been because of bombs."
Michael Barr, director of aviation safety programs at USC, spoke against mechanical failure when he stated: "Airplanes don't blow up just like that. I've been following 747s since 1970 and I've never seen one blow up like that."
Robert McGuire, president of Kroll Associates of New York, a highly regarded consulting and security firm, and former NYPD police commissioner—who obviously had not heard the eyewitness statements regarding the "small glow" that preceded the huge fireball—said, "The nature of the incident appears to be traumatic explosion. There were no reports of a burning engine, smoke or the normal stuff that happens to these planes before an accident. Because there was no transmission back to the tower, there seems to have been immediate or overwhelming trauma."
Philip Stern, the managing director of the Fairfax Group, hinting he suspected possible terrorist involvement, mentioned that the original departure point of Athens, where the TWA jet had flown into JFK from, was "troublesome" to him. Athens, according to Stern, has long been known to act as a gateway to the Middle East, and Greece has a history of "radical politicians sympathetic to Middle Eastern causes."
Robert Kupperman, senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and well-known terrorism expert, said that he noted several pieces of evidence that made him believe that this was a likely terrorist bombing. He said the signs indicating a terrorist incident were: All of the eyewitnesses describing a fireball and subsequent explosion; it was a U.S. aircraft enroute to Europe; terrorists in late June attacked a U.S. military facility in Saudi Arabia; and the Summer Olympic Games were starting two days later in Atlanta.
Jack Barker, retired FAA spokesman, said that it was quite likely a bomb, but "You don't want to speculate about what has happened until the NTSB and the FBI have made their investigation, but it certainly is reminiscent of the Lockerbie explosion and in the realm of speculation. The explosion in the air, the fire—there had to be some kind of ignition in the air, and that could be caused by only a very few things. A bomb being on board could be one of them. The other has already been ruled out by the FAA—a collision with another aircraft. Aside from those two things, for anything else to cause an explosion would be very, very rare."
Amazingly, two spokesmen for the TWA 800 disaster were the same "experts" that handled Pan Am 103, Oliver "Buck" Revell (FBI) and Vincent Cannistraro (CIA). Buck Revell told the press that such a jet had never been destroyed in the air by an explosion that was not sabotage, and Vincent Cannistrano said that if it was a bomb "this is another notch up the ladder of terrorism...in the past year domestic aviation security has been tightened considerably." [Because] He said that terrorists have never blown up an airliner with a bomb planted in the U.S.
The government spokesmen were being much more cautious about jumping to conclusions, however. White House spokesman Mike McCurry and others, including President Clinton, refused to comment on whether they felt it was a terrorist event or a catastrophic failure of an aircraft system. Noncommittal, they developed for the media a "wait and see" stance.
But behind the scenes it appeared that other lines of communication between government agencies were being developed and a different message was being sent. There appeared to be drastic discrepancies between what many eye witnesses saw and what the government— especially the FBI—was willing to recognize as a possible cause of the explosion.
Early on many witnesses stated that they saw something that appeared to them to be a flare or a streak of light that seemed to arc up and hit the jumbo jet. Variations of these sightings match what the FAA radar controllers saw on their scope at JFK Departure Control, and what three crewmen on the C-130 witnessed as they flew their "flare dropping exercise."
But the FBI and other federal agencies, up to and including the White House, though not ruling out the "possibility" of a missile attack, consistently attempted to debunk any reference to a surface-to-air missile as a viable cause worth investigation. According to FBI Agent Jim Margolin, when questioned about the three possibilities—a bomb, a mechanical malfunction, or a missile: "Along with a mechanical malfunction, the missile theory rounds out the known universe of potential causes."
Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the New York office of the FBI James Kallstrom, however, was not quite as dismissing. He appeared to be walking a political tightrope when he told the media that [paraphrased] "Widespread attention being given to the crash may make many eyewitness reports related to the missile theory suspect." He conceded, however, that with similar accounts reported by "numerous citizens" of "events, things in the sky" meant the missile theory could not be discarded.
Then, a mysterious "unnamed Pentagon Spokesman" offered this for mass consumption when the subject of shoulder-launched missiles, such as the Stinger or the Russian SA-7, might be the culprits: "There is no way a Stinger or other hand-held shoulder-fired missile could take down a 747—and a Stinger does not have the range to hit TWA 800 at the altitude it was at." This same spokesman went on to state unequivacably that the plane could not have had a fuel explosion because it was fueled with JP-8. This means the "spokesman" was a Navy man because only the Navy uses JP-8 fuel, and then only on carriers because of its high flash point. Two things immediately discredited this learned source. First, TWA 800 was well within range of a Stinger if it was fired from a boat, and second, the airplane was fueled with Jet A fuel, which is the commercial jet fuel that all civilian jets and commercial airlines use. When this information was brought to the attention of SAC Kallstrom's office by the author no more was heard from this "unnamed Pentagon source."
By Day Three it became evident that there were three powers at work fighting over the bone of contention of TWA 800 and the cause of its demise. First, it became apparent that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesman, Robert Francis, was trying to walk a non-committal line between the FBI, TWA, Pratt & Whitney (the engine builder) and the Boeing Airplane Company. He had by then hunkered down to weather out the storm of controversy by repeatedly announcing that "we are moving slowly forward," and "it's just too early to tell."
The FBI, and the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, however, reminded reporters that though they were not officially taking over the investigation, they were watching for any evidence of a bombing or terrorist involvement. At that time, according to Kallstrom, they would assume the responsibility for the investigation and it would take a new course. Hints over the next week leaned toward nudging the public mind toward acceptance of a probable bomb aboard the airliner— probably in the forward cargo hold or the passenger section just above that location.
TWA, however, did not want the outcome to point to a bomb as that would open the company up to lawsuits by relatives of the victims who would blame lax airport security as the major contributing factor.
The Boeing Airplane Company did not want the investigation to point fingers at a design flaw of the airframe or fuel system as they would then become the object of a massive law suit, and Pratt & Whitney did not want the blame placed on a catastrophic engine failure for the same reason.
In all, it appeared that everyone was choosing up sides and going to their corners to await the outcome of the investigation of the wreckage that was being retrieved by the Navy salvage ship, U.S.S. Grapple. The odd-man out in all of this, however, was the "missile theory." A shootdown by terrorists at sea, using a surface-to-air missile, would leave TWA, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney out of any subsequent lawsuit regarding negligence. It would not, however, let the government off the hook.
The idea that someone high in government was becoming very nervous about the possibility of a missile strike became increasingly evident as the investigation continued and witnesses were discovered and interviewed. The FBI located and questioned hundreds of local residents, ostensibly to find out what they might have witnessed that night. But they evidently did not like what they were hearing, for as they found witnesses who reported aerial objects striking the jet, or smoke plumes, or flares, or fireworks, or strange lights in the sky, the agents immediately began intimidating the witnesses by telling them that they could not have seen a missile. They told them that none of them knew what a missile looked like, that what they saw was simply "falling debris" and not something that came up from the water. To many of these witnesses, it appeared that the FBI had orders to make the incident a bomb if possible and debunk any missile story—no matter what the evidence or witnesses saw. This falls in line with what the FBI and Justice Department did after the Oklahoma City bombing a year earlier when they dropped the search for John Doe #2 within a few weeks after the event. They then intimidated every witness who reported that they saw JD#2 with McVeigh. These included eye witness sightings at the truck rental agency in Kansas; in the Ryder truck with McVeigh in Oklahoma City when he stopped to ask directions; across the street from the post office a block away from the Murrah Building; and getting out of the truck with McVeigh after parking in front of the building. The FBI then told the press seeing John Doe #2 was just a case of mass hysteria. Would finding John Doe #2 have led the investigation in the politically incorrect direction, as would a missile?
Two witnesses would not be intimidated. A husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote a "letter to the editor" to a major city newspaper in California. The letter follows:
I witnessed the crash of TWA flight 800.
I work in a county office in California. My wife and I were on vacation in New York. We were on the beach when it happened. We talked to many other witnesses who saw the same thing that we did. A very bright firey light heading upward toward the jet. Then an explosion.
We told what we had seen to some investigators. We told them that we were on our vacation and about to continue on to Florida. They asked us to stay a while longer and said that they would pay our hotel bill until our statements as to what we saw could be taken by other investigators. We agreed.
It turned out however to be more than just our statements taken. They took our social security numbers, drivers licenses and license plate numbers. They wanted to know my place of employment and the names and addresses of our children and relatives. They questioned us in separate rooms and made us feel like criminals. They said that what we must have seen was a shooting star or some fireworks being shot from a boat. I told them that it was definitely a flare type rocket heading toward the aircraft, then it exploded.
It was then suggested that we did not see anything at all and that we were going along with what other people said they saw, just for the excitement of it. I told them "no way, I know what I saw."
After the questioning we were asked to go back to the hotel and stay there until we were cleared to leave. About three hours later two other men we had not seen before came to the hotel. They gave us some money and told us "never to mention anything to anyone about being witnesses to the crash again."
They scared the hell out of us. It was a lot of money and we accepted it out of fear.
If it was a missile that brought down the jet then I could understand that they would not want people to panic. But the way they are handling it is shocking and inexcusable.
My wife and I are outraged and we want people to know how we were treated.
This letter is not signed out of concern for ourselves and our family.
In an article published in the August 25th, 1996 edition of The Austin American-Statesman, three paragraphs stood out:
"In addition, the notion that Stinger missiles from Afghanistan might have made their way into the United states was a long-standing assumption within law enforcement circles.
"The presence on the crash scene of officials with the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency reinforced in some minds that there might have been some intercepted intelligence regarding a missile attack."
On the same day, the Times of London reported: "U.S. officials are investigating reports that Islamic terrorists have smuggled Stinger ground-to-air missiles into the United States from Pakistan.
"Senior Iranian sources close to the fundamentalist regime in Teheran claimed this weekend that the TWA flight 800 was shot down last month by one of these shoulder-fired Stingers of the type used by Islamic guerrillas during the Afghanistan war.
"The sources said the missiles arrived in America seven months ago after being shipped from Karachi via Rotterdam and on to the Canadian port of Halifax. They claimed an Egyptian fundamentalist group backed by Iran was responsible for smuggling the weapons across the Canadian border into the United States.
The article went on to identify the group: the Gama'a al-Islamiya—the same group that attempted to blow up the New York Trade Center under the leadership of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. This same group allegedly notified the White House that they had shot down the plane, and even provided a serial number of the missile used. This last information has not been confirmed as of this writing.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of witness statements support the missile contention; federal agents have been attempting to silence these witnesses; and the fact that Stinger missiles have been smuggled into this country by Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations is out of the bag.
In the weeks that followed the crash a great deal of wreckage was recovered by the Navy divers. The shredded aluminum and other bits and pieces, including the first three engines (1,2 &4), were transported to an empty Grumman Aircraft Company hangar in Calverton, where the wreckage was being examined and slowly reassembled. Though most of the damage appeared to come from the center of the aircraft, somewhere around the center fuel tank and behind the forward baggage compartment, virtually no chemical residue of explosives was detected that could be pinned to a bomb. There was some evidence of explosive chemicals on the wreckage, but from various locations that included the wings, wing tips, and rear fuselage area. This would not be indicative of a bomb in the cabin or baggage compartment. It would however, be indicative of something else: a missile hit on a hot engine, which then began to disintegrate and cast burning pieces into the wings and fuselage. Especially since the chemicals that were identified also match those used in military explosives—including the warheads of missiles.
For the divers aboard the Grapple, it was tough going. Though the wreckage lay on the ocean floor only 120 feet down, it was scattered for almost three miles in a tadpole-shaped pattern. The water was murky and dark, making it extremely dangerous to navigate through the twisted wreckage. On top of this, the local shark population had sensed the bodies and continued to school in the area as the divers worked. Eventually the crash site became known as "Mako City" after the most numerous of the shark breeds that infested the area.
The debris fields were mainly divided into two areas of concern: the nose and forward section of the fuselage which broke loose and fell first, and the main fuselage area, wings and tail which appeared to fly for several seconds after the aircraft had been "decapitated."
As the divers worked and the debris began to arrive on shore, the investigators on land busied themselves with assembling the pieces of the puzzle. A joint task force consisting of the FBI Counterterrorisim Task Force, the New York Police Department, and the NTSB appeared to the news watchers to be working like a team. In reality, the word behind the scenes gained through law enforcement and government aviation sources is that there was pressure coming down from Washington for federal agents to cover up what really happened, and if they could not blame a bomb or mechanical malfunction, then to drag the investigation out until the public and media lost interest.
But why? Why would the government not want to have the truth come out if it was a missile? Why not warn the flying public? And could it really have been a missile, and if so what type and where did it come from?
To understand some of the past historical events that may have a bearing on the loss of TWA 800, one must dig back into the a series of events that occurred in the 1980s regarding the "loss" of several hundred shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. During the Afghan/Russian war, the CIA, in support of the Mujihadeen guerrillas, smuggled hundreds of Stingers into Afghanistan to counter the Russian MiGs and Hind helicopter gunships. The missiles were so effective that they are credited as being a major factor in the Russian withdrawal from the country. At the end of the war a few hundred Stingers were left over and were offered back to the U.S. government. But for some mysterious reason, the government did not want them back.
The missiles were eventually taken to Islamabad, Pakistan, and put on the open market. Most were bought by Israeli arms dealers and resold at a profit to the Iranians for use against the Iraqis during the border war. The Iraqi air force seldom flew, however, leaving many missiles in Iranian inventory when the border war ground to a halt. Reportedly, these Stingers eventually found their way into the hands of two terrorist groups: Hizbollah and Hamas.
Discounting this information, even if it was not true, other Stingers remain on sale by the Afghanis for $100,000 each, a small sum for terrorist organizations who have a $1 million contract per airplane from the Iranians in retribution for the shootdown of the Iranian A-300 Airbus by the U.S.S. Vincennes. The contract is called a Fatwa, a religious order that cannot be recalled, quite similar to the order to kill author Salmon Rushdie for writing his book, Satanic Verses. This Fatwa was for ten American jumbo jets.
This also matches the story of Pan Am 103 being the first to be destroyed, tracing the bombers back to Syria and the PFLP-GC; and Ramzi Yousef planning to blow up a dozen 747s. Yousef, the New York World Trade Center bomber, was arrested in Pakistan before he could carry out his mission. He was also tightly connected to Islamic terrorists in the Philippines, and to Hamas cells in the United States—including New York City. 3. The downing of TWA flight 800, assigned to Imad Mughaniyah.
CIA sources say at least 30-40 missiles are in circulation in the terrorist ranks (a very conservative estimate), and that these missiles were offered to be given back to the State Department at no charge, but the CIA and Clinton Administration refused to take them back for some odd reason. Author and investigator Rodney Stich, receiving this information from deep-cover intelligence sources, wrote a letter to Senator Arlen Specter on Oct. 20, 1995, "that this refusal suggested a hidden agenda, with possible catastrophic consequences in shooting down commercial airliners." To prove how reliable his information was, the warning even included the serial numbers of some of the missiles, which were provided by one of Stich's deep cover CIA whistle blowers. The offer to give back the missiles was made by Afghan Mujihadeen leader General Rashid Dostom.
According to Stich, the following missiles were issued to the Afghans and may have found their way into terrorist hands: GDP 84D 001-320 362956; GDP 84J 001-320 363602; GDP 86G 001-387 369587; GDP 84G 001 320 363387.
To add to this, Israeli intelligence reported that they received unconfirmed information that 50 Stingers entered the U.S. in January, 1995. They attempted to warn U.S. authorities, but were ignored.
Stingers are not the only shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles available to terrorists. The Russian equivalent to the earlier American "Redeye" missile is the SA-7 "Grail." According to Intelligence sources, over 120,000 Russian SA-7s have been produced, and about 10% have fallen into the hands of terrorist groups—some with Russian assistance. The SA-7 is responsible for hitting a jet near Oman at a slant range of over six miles, and a British-made Hunter aircraft near Yemen was struck at a height of 12,000 feet. During the Vietnam war, NVA and VC rocket gunners engaged and destroyed aircraft at altitudes of between 11,000 and 12,000 feet with the Grail. The Russian Stinger clone, the SA-14 "Gremlin," is even more effective.
The Stinger, contrary to what the unnamed Pentagon spokesman stated, was more than capable of reaching the 747 from a boat, even if the aircraft was in excess of the latest altered altitude of 13,700 feet. But did any witnesses observe a missile trail originating from the sea below the jet?
According to an Athens newspaper, a Greek commercial pilot saw just that.
Investigative journalist David Hoffman, editor of the Haight Ashbury Free Press, made contact with an Athenian named Yannis Boyiopoulos who confirmed that the Athens newspaper Elftherotypia on August 23, 1996 reported on the front page that a Greek pilot had witnessed the explosion and described what he saw. The pilot was flying behind the 747 when he observed something come up from the water that to him resembled a "rocket." He watched it until it struck the airplane. According to Boyiopoulos "The same person has already testified three times to agents of the FBI and now he is in Greece. His name is Vasilis Bakoynis."
Still, no matter what the witnesses saw or photographed, the Government seemed intent on debunking any story that supported the missile strike scenario. Our unnamed Pentagon Spokesman advised the major media that "...there is no way a Stinger or other hand-held shoulder-fired missile could take down a 747—and a Stinger does not have the range to hit TWA 800 at the altitude it was at."
In this statement are two lies. First, an airplane is a very fragile machine which operates in a very unforgiving environment. Though large aircraft ranging from World War II bombers to the latest air buses have survived after sustaining very serious damage, others have crashed after simple failures of a single component in the flight control or engine systems, not to mention very small bombs that simply breached hull integrity, or baggage doors that blew off to be sucked into engine intakes. A number of crashes and other incidents have been linked to the latter scenario, including one in which a forward baggage door blew off of a 747 and was ingested by the number three engine, which then self-destructed, sending super-heated engine parts into the soft aluminum skin of the wings and fuselage. But the jet survived and landed safely.
This is exactly what could have happened to TWA 800—after a missile strike on an inboard engine, such as number three, but with much more catastrophic results.
Multi-engine aircraft engines are numbered from left to right as one looks down at the aircraft. The outermost left engine is number one. The next in, or left inboard engine is number two. Number three is the right inboard engine, and number four the right side outboard engine. In the case of TWA 800, engines one, two and four were raised fairly early in the search. The last engine, described in the first few days as "engine parts" was not raised until several weeks after the crash. The reason it was left on the bottom supposedly was because it had not yet been found, and that only "parts of an engine" had been located. This proved untrue when the number three engine was actually brought to the surface by the Navy.
To those who knew what they were seeing, number three engine told a dramatic story. As it was loaded aboard a flat-bed truck to be transported to the reconstruction site, the educated observer could see that there were several descrepancies. First, the fan section in the front of the engine was only about 30% intact. Most of the fan blades were absent and those that remained, a pie-shaped section on one side of the wheel, were bent at the tips, as if they contacted the engine intake cowling while still turning. The center section of the engine displayed bent and distorted connector rings over the burner can section, and most of the back of the engine was missing! The entire engine appeared to have been burned, and this did not happen underwater.
The next day the NTSB announced that all engines were up and none showed any "problems" that could have contributed to the incident.
The NTSB spokesman, Robert Francis, was quoted in a London publication as reporting that "Investigators have stripped down all four of the jet's engines but found, according to safety board vice chairman, Robert Francis, 'nothing really extraordinary'."
No problems, no clues, no new evidence.
Then came the Kabot photo.
Linda Kabot, an East Moriches resident attending a party near the beach, took a photograph during the event. When the photo was developed, it showed a cylindrical object in the air with one end brightly lighted. The problem with this photograph is that according to Kabot, she held the camera facing north, away from the ocean, which means the "missile" in the photo had to come from inland—which might put it out of range of a shoulder-launched SAM unless it was fired as TWA 800 was passing nearby still climbing. Whatever the case, the photo and negatives were seized by the FBI for analysis.
The second lie told by the unnamed Pentagon source was that a Stinger could not bring down a 747. As discussed, it could bring down such an airplane if it hit an inboard engine, such as number three, which in turn would catch fire and begin spewing bits and pieces of flaming engine parts into the fuselage—and center fuel tank—and the wings and internal wing tanks. Within a minute or two the near empty center tank, now ruptured, might be ignited. A large fuel tank such as this, which only carried about fifty gallons of volatile fuel, is a veritable bomb.
The burned carcass of number three engine notwithstanding, the investigators still continued to deny the missile scenario. There are many plausible reasons why they would take such a stance: First, no amount of airport security could stop such an attack in the future. Next, it could possibly have a giant impact on the flying public and subsequent airline profits. Then, of course, the public would want to know where terrorists obtained such a weapon, which would eventually lead back to U.S. government figures at the highest levels. And how did it get into this country without being detected? And finally, if the word leaked out that the missiles were offered back to the government and the administration refused to take them back, what then? And in an election year?
As the bomb and mechanical malfunction aspects of the investigation began to lose credibility due to lack of evidence, the missile scenario began to build into an acceptable reality. At about this time, another rumor began circulating regarding the possiblility of "friendly fire" from a military ship or aircraft that had "accidently" loosed a missile which struck Flight 800. The day after this rumor hit the Internet and was being repeated in radio talk shows, the Pentagon sent a spokesman to squash the rumors. On CNN that day a full Navy captain appeared before the cameras to announce that [paraphrasing] "there had been no accidental discharge of a weapon that night, and there had been no military exercises in the area, and no military vessels or aircraft."
These statements were quickly countered by very simple and obvious questions: If this was the case, then where did the C-130, two Blackhawk helicopters, the P-3 Orion, and a Navy guided missile cruiser—the U.S.S. Normandy—come from?
This spokesman was never seen again. Nor did the military address the question of friendly fire in the electronic media.
Investigative reporter David Hendrix of the Riverside, CA, Press-Enterprise queried the Navy regarding the statements that there were no exercises being conducted nor military assets in the vicinity. This was done after he secured a copy of an unclassified message from Fleet Air Control and Surveillance Facility, Oceana, VA, to FAA New York Air Traffic Control that read: "Request stationary altitude reservation Tango Billy [area code name] surface to flight level 10,000 feet within (longitude and latitude) 39 degrees 50 minutes North and 72 degrees 10 minutes West, 39 degrees 50 minutes North and 70 degrees 45 minutes West, 38 degrees North and 72 degrees 10 minutes West (excluding warning areas) from 0100 Z [Zulu: Greenwich Mean Time] on the 18th to 0700 Z on the 18th July 96." The local time and date would be the 17th of July at 8 p.m. New York time until 3 a.m. the next morning. This request would take effect about when TWA 800 was taxiing to the runway at JFK.
The impact zone of the wreckage was reported by Associated Press as approximately 40 degrees 40 minutes North latitude, and 72 degrees 40 minutes West longitude. This is between 60-65 statute miles northwest of the northwest corner of the reserved exercise area. Other reports, however, state that the 747 was in close proximity—some within ten miles—of the exercise zone.
Hendrix received a reply to his August 30, 1996 letter to the Navy from COMNAVAIRLANT (Commander Naval Air Atlantic) public affairs office via CINCLANTFLT (Commander In Chief Atlantic Fleet) Public Affairs office. In it the Navy admitted being in the area: "...As previously stated a P-3 Orion submarine patrol aircraft was operating at flight level 10,000 (approximately 3,700 feet below TWA 800) and some distance away when the incident occurred. The P-3's crew heard radio traffic discussing the incident and offered assistance. They reversed course, were vectored to the area, and remained for a short time until released by the Coast Guard. The P-3 carries no offensive or defensive weapons and would not have been capable of causing any damage to another aircraft."
Either this was a deliberate lie, or the Public Affairs officer who wrote the letter did not know, nor did he or she check, what the P-3 is capable of. After all, the Orion is an anti-submarine aircraft. This means it is capable of locating, then sinking, submarines. In actual fact, the P-3 is capable of carrying in its weapons bay one Mk-25 or 39 or 56 mine, or three Mk-36 or 52 mines, or three Mk-57 depth charges, or 8 Mk-43 or 44 or 46 torpedoes. On underwing pylons, the P-3 can carry mines and rockets, or can ferry torpedoes. Maximum weapons load is rated at 20,000 lbs.
The next statement, that the P-3 "heard" the radio traffic and had to be vectored to the scene is also problematic. The flames on the water from the crash could be seen from Long Island, and the P-3 would not have to be "vectored" to the site. The Navy also apparently was parroting the FBI and NTSB news releases that the altitude of the TWA plane was 13,700 feet—disregarding the official FAA radar reports on Day One of 8,000 feet, then the subsequent "corrections" of 10,300 feet and above.
The Navy letter goes on to say: "Also as previously released the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy was conducting routine operations about 180 miles from the crash site. It was not engaged in any weapons firing evolution at the time."
As a guided missile cruiser, the Normandy would carry the RIM-67 Standard SM-2ER semi-active radar homing air defense missiles. This missile has a range in excess of 93 miles and an unclassified altitude range of 100,000 feet. Its speed is in excess of Mach 2.5, and even with a dummy warhead could be deadly to an aircraft.
A later story that circulated in the press was that on the evening of July 17th, the TWA jet took off for Paris, turned on course over the ocean and got too close to an exercise being conducted off shore by a joint law enforcement task force of National Guard, Coast Guard, Customs and Drug Enforcement Agency. They were reportedly practicing how to shoot down drug-smuggling airplanes with shoulder-fired missiles and were using flares dropped by the C-130 as targets. A missile was fired or "got loose accidently" and locked on to the TWA plane instead of a flare. But according to federal officials, "there was no exercise that night, the air space was available for civilian use, and law enforcement agencies do not have anti-aircraft missiles."
This, like many other government explanations regarding this incident, was not true. The Secret Service has Stinger missiles that they carry at all times when the Protection Detail is escorting the President. These missiles are carried in special boxes in the back of the Secret Service Suburban. Besides this, agents are stationed on roof tops around the White House with Stingers to protect the air space over the building. One SS agent told me when I was flying air cover over a Clinton motorcade that if we flew too close to the motorcade we would be shot down by an agent with a Stinger. He said they always carry them in the back of their escort vehicles along with other weapons.
Also, there were exercises going on that night because we have statements made by military personnel who were involved: New York Air National Guard C-130 crew dropping flares; NY Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crew who saw the explosion; P-3 Orion in vicinity; Coast Guard vessels; and the U.S.S. Normandy "somewhere nearby."
It is odd that the Navy spokesmen would state that the Normandy was 180 miles away. This is exactly twice the range of the Standard missile. This is also almost the exact distance between the TWA crash site and the farthest (southeast) corner of the exercise box requested by the Navy for that time frame.
In weighing the facts and witness statements, the most likely scenario to explore is that of a hand-held surface-to-air missile. This would mean a Mideast terrorist organization connection—something the Clinton administration was loath to consider in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, and which has continuously disavowed or failed to recognize any domestic problems with such groups.
The missile scenario was not discounted by all media, however. According to The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA), in an article printed on August 26th, 1996, "From the beginning, intrigued by eyewitness accounts of something streaking up toward the airplane just before it began to explode, investigators considered the possibility of a missile attack, perhaps from a small boat. There has been mounting concern in intelligence and law enforcement circles that terrorists could use hand-held anti-aircraft missiles to attack civilian airliners. A State Department report catalogued 25 incidents between 1978 and 1993 in which civilian commercial airplanes were shot down by missiles, killing more than 600 people." 3. Another weapons system is a flying laser energy beam that has been developed to destroy missiles. In a test conducted in the 1980s, such a weapon succeeded in destroying five Sidewinder missiles and one cruise missile, according to Colonel Lanny Larfson, director of lasers and imaging at the Air Force's Phillips Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, which is pioneering work on the systems. Other players in the development of laser and directed energy beam "Star Wars" weapons systems are: TRW, Hughes Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. The platform for such a "flying laser beam" would be a large aircraft, such as a 747, according to Air Force sources involved in the testing of COIL, or Chemical Oxygen Iodine laser system.
Finally, another news source, the International Currency Review (Vol 23 No. 4), published the following information regarding the trajedy of TWA 800: "A KGB defector has informed us that the TWA plane was sabotaged by Russian intelligence. This operation had to be implemented directly, rather than via controlled forces apparently separated from Yevgenny Primakov's global terror apparatus, because it was tightly timed to precede the Group of Seven's meeting on security and terrorism—at which it was agreed that the G-7 countries and Russia would now have access to the FBI's data base, and that a comprehensive exchange of intelligence and cooperation would ensue. Further atrocities will be staged in due course to ratchet up this process, in fulfilment of a secret Soviet sub-strategy to exploit terror and organized crime—which the successor Leninist criminal state is exporting globally—to establish 'global structures' and ultimately, a 'world justice system' which would supplant national security arrangements and legal systems, further contributing to the intended redundancy of the nation state." This falls in line with the Gorbachev Foundation's line for a new form for prosecution of "global issues" intended to render the nation-state redundant—the manipulation of organized crime and terror as weapons which could be used in furtherance of anti-state revolutionary objectives.
This explanation should not be discounted out of hand, for an agenda does exist to bring all nations into a world-wide system of government—even if the peoples of the world have to be intimidated with terror before they will accept such an Orwellian system. This is known as the "Hegelian Principle" after Professor Hegel who stated that to make the people accept a normally repugnant idea, you simply created a problem that they feared, then offer the idea as the only available—and less fearsome—solution. In this case, exhibited incidents of terrorism can be used to convince a population that more drastic "anti-terrorist" laws should be passed.
If international terrorists were responsible for this disaster, then who might they be? The list of suspects is not long:
Ramzi Yousef group (Hamas): Supporters of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef (AKA: Abdul Basit Mahmoud Abdul Karim), currently in prison in New York, was at the time of the incident undergoing trial in NYC. Yousef was trained during the Afghan War and was captured and extradited to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1995. The trial was in its eighth week when TWA 800 went down.
Hizbollah: Pro-Iranian guerilla organization, now seeking to extract revenge on the U.S. for supporting Israel.
al-Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group or IG): Egyptian terrorist group from which the U.S. imprisoned its spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman was convicted in 1995 for plotting to bomb the United Nations and several other New York landmarks. He is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Springfield, Missouri.
Hamas: Hamas has vowed to attack the U.S. for agreeing to extradite a known terrorist by the name of Musa Abu Marzouk to Israel. Marzouk was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York last year, and was held and faced extradition hearings in New York. Hamas has 28 cells in the U.S., one in New York City and one in Boston.
Islamic Movement for Change: A Saudi splinter group, it is the only group known to claim any responsibility for the downing of the flight. It supposedly has ties to Saudi Arabia, and claims responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. facilities in Riyadh in November, 1995, and in Dhahran on 25 June 1996. The question one must address regarding this group is: Could it be possible that this new, unknown group, is actually a Russian front that would match the Russian connection article? It may take years to discover the answer to this question.
This chapter was not written as an attempt to solve the mysteries surrounding the destruction of TWA 800, but to simply present evidence of what appears to support a much more complicated case than what has been reported by the controlled media. It was also written to exhibit the continued Modus Operandi by government mouthpieces on not only this case but the ones that came before. When one knows what to look for, it becomes apparent when a pattern of deceit develops in both the media and in the various organs of government.
Was TWA 800 shot down by a missile fired by Islamic fundamentalists as the physical evidence and majority of witness statements indicate?
Did the airplane experience a catastrophic mechanical failure?
Was there a bomb on board that exploded without leaving more than a trace of residue?
Was the plane struck by friendly fire from an aircraft or ship?
It may take years to discover the actual cause of the explosion of TWA 800. For as this chapter is being written, the FBI and other agencies continue their "investigations"....
And their damage control.
But the biggest question of all is: "Why?"