Reprinted from Arutz Sheva National Radio -- May 29, 1997
In This Article:
1. THE WTC CONNECTION
2. HEAR NO EVIL
3. PLO/SUDAN - CLOSE TIES
4. SEE NO EVIL
5. DON'T SPOIL LUNCH
While the Clinton administration continues to woo PA Chairman Yasser Arafat in an effort to jump-start the bogged down Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate Arafat's possible connection to the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing which claimed the lives of six Americans.
Senator Specter had read an alarming news report on the front page of The Jerusalem Post, (March 26, 1997), which quoted Deputy Minister of Education, Col. (res.) Moshe Peled, MK, that Israeli intelligence has evidence that Yasser Arafat "had prior knowledge" of the World Trade Center bombing in New York in February, 1993. So on April 1, the concerned Senator dictated an immediate letter from his car while travelling through his home state of Pennsylvania to the Attorney General requesting her to "conduct an appropriate investigation to determine what evidence exists, if any, of Arafat's complicity in this matter."
Four weeks later, Senator Spector received a faxed letter back from Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois, Office of Legislative Affairs - a reply Senator Spector aptly described as "a vacuous answer." Mr. Fois wrote: "Aside from the news report enclosed with your letter, the Department of Justice is unaware of any information that Yasser Arafat either had prior knowledge of the bombing of the World Trade Center or was involved in the conspiracy to bomb the building. We have queried the Israeli authorities about this information and they deny the accuracy of the statements attributed in the article to the Deputy Education Minister."
The U.S. Justice Department's response is puzzling. There is no indication that a serious in-depth investigation was carried out. But what is worse, is the vague reference to "Israeli authorities" claiming that, in fact, The Jerusalem Post had misquoted Israel's Deputy Education Minister, Moshe Peled, the public source for the allegations, thus implying that the story is baseless. What Fois could not know is that Mr. Peled subsequently repeated his allegations over the Israeli electronic media. So no "Israeli authorities" could claim that he didn't say what The Jerusalem Post quoted.
On February 5, 1997, Yehoshua Meiri, Arab Affairs correspondent for Arutz-7 Radio, reported that "El-Kihan", the official Iranian government newspaper, dropped strong hints of Yasser Arafat's responsibility for the February 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center, claiming that Arafat
organized the attack as a signal of his displeasure with the American decision to suspend talks with him at the time. However, the Iranian report was taken with a grain of salt considering Teheran's current displeasure with Mr. Arafat because of his limiting Iran's influence over the Hamas in Gaza.
But a month later, Meiri followed up his initial report quoting Israeli intelligence sources who maintain that "a meeting was held four days before the bombing in Khartoum, Sudan, in which it was decided to blow up the building, so it is impossible that Arafat did not know of this, because Arafat arrived in Khartoum that day and was present at this meeting at which the American intelligence sources say it was decided to blow up the WTC." According to Arutz-7's Arab Affairs correspondent, these intelligence sources confirm that Arafat was privy to the conspiracy, because of his close personal ties to Sudanese leader Hassan al-Tourabi, and attended the meeting in Khartoum together with al-Tourabi, the chairman of the Islamic Front in Sudan, the international terrorist network behind the bombing. Arafat reportedly said at the meeting, "It'll be good for the Americans to understand that if they don't talk with me, they'll talk with bombs."
And in the Jerusalem Post story, Yonah Alexander, a Pentagon consultant on terrorism, was quoted as saying that "Arafat continues to maintain a training base in Sudan where the Fatah people work closely with the regime and with Iran. If there hadn't been an agreement with Israel, then Fatah would definitely have been on the US list of terror organizations."
The aforementioned accounts did not surprise Congressman Jon Fox (R-PA), a member of the House International Relations Committee, who told this writer that "reports we received from a Congressional investigator with close ties to Israeli officials said Hamas and Fatah have training camps in Sudan, and that Arafat has strategic ties with Tourabi and he has exploited them to forge cooperation with Hamas. But I am concerned," Rep. Fox declared, "that from the Department of Justice response, it appears that no thorough investigation took place. At this point," Mr. Fox said, "I am contacting both the CIA and FBI in hopes of getting to the bottom of this matter which allegedly links Arafat to the WTC 1993 bombing."
It is public record that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, was directly responsible for the murder of two American diplomats, U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel and his deputy, George Curtis Moore, in Khartoum in 1973 (the CIA has a recording of the telephone conversation wherein Arafat ordered their Black September kidnappers to kill them, and in 1985, the State Department confirmed that the U.S. was seriously considering extradition proceedings against Arafat); the 1978 killing of American Gail Rubin, the niece of then Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.), on an Israeli beach; the 1985 murder of wheelchair bound American Leon Klinghoffer on the hijacked cruise ship, the Achille Lauro; to name just a few.
So the apparent refusal by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate the possible involvement in another terrorist attack where six more Americans were killed, is politically, perhaps, understandable. Although technically, the WTC bombing occurred before Oslo when Arafat was still a terrorist chieftain, even according to the Americans. So it is not unusual that he would meet with other arch-terrorists like al-Tourabi, but why care about the WTC bombing where his involvement may have been peripheral at best?
The problem is that a "thorough investigation" as requested by Senator Spector, might recall to people's minds Mr. Arafat's long terrorist record, at a time when evidence keeps popping up that he never abandoned his murderous path. And this is not a good thing for the Clintons when they have Arafat over for lunch at The White House next time, while continuing to pressure Netanyahu to ignore Arafat's negotiation-by-terror-and-violence tactics today.
This is particularly critical to President Clinton now when Arafat is publicly backing the PA declarations, and apparent actions, in the killing of Arabs who may have sold land to Jews. While State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns finally issued a belated condemnation of the Palestinian Authority for openly declaring the death penalty on Arabs who sell, or sold, land to Jews, he stopped short of implicating Arafat personally, and of course, no word has been heard from Mr. Clinton regarding "confidence building measures" that Arafat can do to convince Israel of his commitment to the peace process.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Newt Gingrich (R-GA), perhaps said it best, when he openly took President Clinton to task in a speech before the annual conference of AIPAC on April 9, 1997, in Washington. The Clinton administration does not distinguish between the aggressor and the victim, he said. Instead of pressuring Arafat, The White House prefers to pressure Netanyahu. "There is extraordinary danger," Speaker Gingrich declared, "in treating terror and democracy equivalently. There is extraordinary danger in placing the burden on your friends, because you are scared to tell the enemy the truth."
Yedidya Atlas is a Senior Correspondent for Arutz-7 Radio, and comments on geopolitical affairs in the Middle East. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Freeman Center.