- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 23, 2002

On Jan. 6, 1995, Philippine police, responding to an apartment fire of suspicious origin, recovered a laptop computer belonging to al Qaeda bomb expert Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was involved in plotting the first bombing attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. The computer contained detailed plans, code named Operation Bojinka, to bomb 11 U.S. airlines over the Pacific Ocean. Bojinka also included using airborne suicide attacks with hijacked passenger airliners onto key targets such as the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, and CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va.

One of Yousef's associates, Abdul Hakim Murad was sent back to the apartment to retrieve the laptop where he was apprehended by the police, told interrogators that he had attending flying schools in the U.S.

Subsequent FBI investigation confirmed that Murad had attended flight schools in New York and North Carolina.

The Clinton administration ignored this and the evidence from the Yousef's computer and many believe the September 11 attacks were only the delayed implementation of Operation Bojinka.

Seven and one-half years later, the FBI arrested an American citizen who had converted to Islam. He had links to al Qaeda and was involved in a terrorist plot to explode a bomb containing radioactive material in an unnamed target in the United States.

Failure of the government to heed the warning of terrorist threats discovered in the Philippines in 1995 led to attacks that killed more than 3,000 citizens. The failure to heed the warnings posed by the arrest of the "dirty bomber" would be catastrophic, and what makes heeding the warning even more critical is the involvement of American citizens in the al Qaeda plot. Until now, the primary focus was on the foreign sources of terror.

That focus will now have to expand to consider involvement of U.S. citizens especially those who have converted to a militant brand of Islam.

Events since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks have brought into sharp focus the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism covered in Morgan Norval's 1999 book, "Triumph of Disorder" and the forthcoming "15 Century War," both published by the McKenna Publishing Group. They warned of the increasing use and effectiveness of terror groups, which are not part of the security apparatus of nation states. These nonstate "freelance terror cells" pose a serious new challenge to our homeland security, as the recent arrest of the former Chicago street gang member and dirty bomb plotter, Jose Padilla, demonstrates. [In addition to predicting a September 11-type incident, Triumph of Disorder also posited the future use of street gangs in terrorist activity.]

The massive suicide attacks of September 11 and the disclosure of the dirty bomb plot represent an escalation in the effects of terror and the difficulty in countering it. Terror attacks are now geared to produce massive casualties and the use of America citizens as agents to carry out these mass slaughter attacks makes the job of prevention that much harder.

One thing we cannot do is ignore warnings, based on credible evidence, like the prior administration did in ignoring Operation Bojinka.

We paid a price for that. In the future the price will be considerably higher.

Hugh C. Newton, a veteran Washington public relations executive, has been a consultant for many conservative policy groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Future of Freedom Foundation and the 60 Plus Association.

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