…the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.” Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI, June 5, 2006
We’ve never made the case, or argued the case, that somehow Osama Bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming.” Vice President Dick Cheney, March 29, 2006
Acknowledgment: For facts on Operation Flavius, I have drawn from the Wikepedia article on the subject
Events last week have brought to mind a similar incident which took place more than twenty years ago involving the killing of three members of a terrorist organisation on Gibraltar, in which there are a number of disturbing parallels.
On 6 March, 1988, an SAS (the UK’s equivalent, more or less, to the United States SEALs) team stopped three members of the IRA as they walked near the Shell filling station in Winston Churchill Avenue, the busy main road leading to the airport and the frontier with Spain.
The three, Danny McCann, Sean Savage and Mairead Farrell, were planning to detonate a car bomb where a military band assembled for the weekly changing of the guard at the governor’s residence.
The SAS team had been informed – incorrectly – that the IRA members had already placed their bomb and were ready to detonate it.
According to the SAS, McCann made an “aggressive move” towards a bag he was carrying. Believing,or so they said at the inquest that was subsequently held (McCann and others v. United Kingdom), that he was intending to trigger a car bomb using a remote device, they shot him dead. Farrell, it was claimed, then made a move towards her handbag and was shot on similar grounds. The SAS claimed that savage moved his hand to his pocket and he, too, was killed.
McCann (the Wikipedia article tells us) was shot five times, Farrell eight times, and Savage between 16 and 18 times. All three were subsequently found to be unarmed, and without any kind of remote trigger. Materials for a bomb, including 64 kg of Semtex, were later found by the Spanish police in a car in Marbella, 46 miles away in Spain, identified by keys found in Farrell’s handbag.
The following month ITV broadcast a Thames Television documentary, “Death on the Rock”. Why, it asked, did the police fail to photograph the bodies or gather forensic evidence? Why was the press—Britain’s tabloids were jubilant—told lies about a huge car bomb being defused and about the three suspects having died in a gunfight? The documentary observed: “There was a strong air of Government cover-up and disinformation.”
Despite the fact that the car bomb found in Marbella was a conventional timer controlled device and despite doubts as to whether such a bomb could be radio-controlled, the jury at the inquest, returned a verdict of lawful killing by a 9-2 majority.
In 1995, the European Court of Human Rights ruled by a majority verdict of ten votes to nine ruled that the killing of the three terrorists breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and was therefore unlawful. It also ruled that the three had been engaged in an act of terrorism, and consequently dismissed unanimously the applicants’ claims for damages, for costs and expenses incurred in the Gibraltar Inquest and the remainder of the claims for just satisfaction.
When I heard the news, I was livid. What business had a European Court to rule on an incident that was of no concern to anyone except the people of Britain and Northern Ireland? These people were terrorists, members of the IRA’s Active Service Unit, responsible for the merciless and indiscriminate killing of hundreds of innocent civilians. As such, they had forfeited the right to the due process of law.
In fact the European Court had every business to make a ruling. Britain had herself signed up to the ECHR as a means of checking human rights abuses in Soviet bloc countries and was herself therefore subject to its provisions.
And whatever my own feelings about the terrorists, too much that has happened in the last ten years has convinced me that justice must be dispensed by legally constituted courts and not by trained killers.
Osama bin Laden was resisting arrest, we have been told. He died in a shoot-out.
Similar stories were told about the three IRA members.
As on that occasion, unless the White House release footage of the so-called “shoot-out”, we have only the words of the killers to go on as to what precisely happened.
Osama bin Laden has been on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for many years. This, according to the FBI website, is “in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya”. No mention is made of 9/11.
On June 5, 2006, the Muckraker Report contacted the FBI Headquarters, (202) 324-3000, to learn why Bin Laden’s Most Wanted poster did not indicate that Usama was also wanted in connection with 9/11. The Muckraker Report spoke with Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI. When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page, Tomb said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”
On March 29, 2006, on The Tony Snow Show, Vice President Dick Cheney stated: “We’ve never made the case, or argued the case, that somehow Osama Bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming.”
While, OBL may have been somehow involved in 9/11, this is not one of the crimes for which he is wanted by the FBI. Why? Because, said an FBI spokesperson, there is no proof that Osama bin Laden was behind 9/11.
OBL himself denied any involvement in 9/11, according to this interview in the Pakistani paper, Ummat, 28 September, 1001.
Justice, if it is to be more than mere retribution, has not only to be done, it has also to be seen to be done—in a court of law, under the scrutiny of the public whom such justice is meant to serve.
On this occasion, some primitive form of justice has been done, but it has not been done according to the rule of law, and it almost certainly has not been seen to have been done.