Read an Excerpt
Prior to September 11, 2001, Americans generally considered themselves safe from foreign attack. Two oceans, friendly neighbors, and a decade of peace and prosperity contributed to an unusual sense of security and well-being shared by most Americans. That illusion has been shattered.
We are all very familiar with the terrible, bloody events of September 11. At 8:45 a.m., Mohammed Atta, an Islamic militant born in Egypt, crashed a Boeing 767 into the New York World Trade Center's North Tower. At 9:06 a.m., Marwan al-Shehhi, Atta's close friend and constant companion, flew another 767 into the South Tower. At 9:40 a.m., Hani Hanjour, a Saudi, drove an airplane into the Pentagon. And at 10:37 a.m., United Flight #93 crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside, when a heroic group of passengers prevented the pilot, a Lebanese named Ziad Jarrah, from attacking his intended target.
It quickly became clear that Usama bin Ladin and his group, al-Qaeda, were involved in the planning of these attacks. Two of the hijackers, suspected associates of bin Ladin, were on a U.S. �watch list,� supposedly prohibited from entering the country. But the critical question remains: Who was ultimately responsible for providing the direction, expertise, and logistical support for the attack? Could this complex plan have been executed by al-Qaeda alone, or did some other, more powerful entity underwrite the attacks?
Mohammed Atta has been called the chief organizer of the September 11 assault. He was the conspirator who received a large cash transfer from abroad, and he hadgone to some effort to meet with senior Iraqi officials, once immediately before his first, fateful trip to the United States and again five months prior to the attack. While the initial blame has been pinned almost exclusively on the al-Qaeda network, there are many clues that point to a more powerful co-conspirator: the government of Iraq. Indeed, the history of Saddam Hussein's involvement offers an eye-opening blueprint to the September 11 attacks, in the form of the first assault on the World Trade Center'the bombing of 1993. The story of that bombing, and of its convicted perpetrator Ramzi Yousef, reads today as an early warning of the far more horrific events of September 2001.
This book offers a detailed reexamination of the facts surrounding the first attack on the World Trade Center. It presents compelling evidence that the individuals involved did not act alone. And, in the process, it exposes the FBI in the �mistake of the century,� as one distinguished former U.S. ambassador to the Middle East described it.
And, ultimately, The War Against America argues that the first assault on the World Trade Center did indeed have state sponsorship'from Iraq. It presents the case that Saddam Hussein is the single greatest terrorist threat to America. And it concludes that his campaign against the allies of the Gulf War continues, almost undetected, to this day.
How did Washington fail to see that Iraq was behind the first World Trade Center bombing? How did Saddam escape blame? The answers to these questions can be found in our changing definition of terrorism.
Before 1993, the official view in Washington was that major attacks on American targets were, almost invariably, state-sponsored. After any major bombing attack, it was assumed that a terrorist state was responsible. For all practical purposes, that meant Libya, Iran, Iraq, or Syria. In those days, terrorism had an address.
But over the past eight years'starting with the first attack on the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993'a new explanation for terrorism has gained widespread acceptance. This explanation holds that the nature of terrorism has changed radically. Major terrorist attacks against the United States are no longer state-sponsored. Rather, it is claimed, terrorism is now carried out by individuals in �loose networks,� amorphous, ill-structured groups, the existence of which may scarcely be known before they burst on the scene with a spectacular act of terrorism.1 Usama bin Ladin and his organization, al-Qaeda, are but the most recent manifestation of this new terrorist phenomenon, said to have begun in 1993.
The assumption that terrorism is largely the work of isolated networks can make the determination of sponsorship much more difficult. When it was thought that terrorist states were behind most major acts of terror, authorities had a relatively short list of suspects to investigate. There was a realistic prospect of determining which state had been behind the attack and punishing it. Thus, except in wartime, the risk of truly major attacks on the United States had always been slim, for the prospect of ferocious retaliation was all too real for any nation to risk. But in an atmosphere in which almost anyone may be thought capable of carrying out clandestine attacks, the list of suspects is so long that the chances of swift reprisal are almost eliminated. As this �loose network� theory gained currency throughout the 1990s, it had a paralyzing effect on America's defensive stance.
This �loose network� concept of terrorism emerged out of two major bombing conspiracies in New York City in the first half of 1993. The first of those plots was the February 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center. The mastermind of that plot, known as Ramzi Yousef, intended to bring both towers down, and though in practice his bombing fell short, the violence of his intentions was startling. In May 1994, in a stern address to the first four men to be convicted for that bombing, Judge Kevin Duffy reviewed the conspirators' aims at their sentencing hearing: to cause the North Tower to topple onto the South Tower amid a cloud of cyanide gas that would engulf those trapped in the first tower. �That's clearly what you intended,� Duffy explained. �If that had happened, we would have been dealing with tens of thousands of deaths.�
The War Against America. Copyright © by Laurie Mylroie. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.