Regarding the plot to blow up the tunnels in New York City, Daniel Hopsicker
has (as is his wont) staked out a weltanschauung
outside both the "official" view and the standard un
-official view. Of course, he has done this sort of thing before, in his investigations of Mohammed Atta.
Many of the tunnel plotters were related to a strange figure named Assem Hammoud, a Hezbollah-related criminal. Hammoud, Hopsicker contends, is no simple-minded religious maniac, but a jet-setting, sophisticated smuggler who enjoys the good life, including those pleasures denied to the devout. In this dichotomous behavior, he resembles Atta.
The Hammoud clan, Hopsicker contends, is fairly large and has long had an involvement in various unsavory activities, primarily smuggling. More importantly, Hopsicker connects one clan member with Atta himself...
But Assem Hammoud's most intriguing relative in the U.S. is the Dearborn clan member who moved to Sarasota Florida, where he was quite a busy boy...
Wissam Hammoud owned a cell phone store in Sarasota which supplied mobile phones to Mohamed Atta... bragged of helping Hezbollah buy assault weapons and night-vision goggles (the group needed them so they “could kill Jews at night”)... was convicted in February in a Federal Court in Tampa of soliciting the murder and beheading of a Federal Agent...and suspected of having foreknowledge of the 9.11 attack.
“In September 2001, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviewed Hammoud because someone had anonymously called saying Hammoud had made a comment that the Oklahoma City bombing was small compared with what was coming,” reported the Tampa Tribune on Jan 6 2004, in a story headlined “Man Bragged Of Ties To Terror, Records Say.”
If (as Hopsicker argues) it is true that the Hammoud family has connections to Hezbollah, the obvious questions are these: Did Hezbollah have foreknowledge of the events of 9/11? If Hezbollah did see it coming, did they participate in the plot? Did foreknowledge extend to Hezbollah's state sponsors?
If so, Bush would have his much-needed pretext for bombing Iran and Syria.But, but, but:
We must be careful when we set foot on such dangerous territory...
(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)
Many times in the past, agents connected to American intelligence have gone "off the reservation" to commit acts unapproved by either the President or the head of the CIA. Similarly, it is perfectly conceivable that individuals who supply Hezbollah with arms, funds, and smuggled goods might also form independent schemes and alliances.
So even if we concede that Hopsicker may be on to something in his thoughts on the Hammoud clan, we should not conclude that the time has come to bomb Tehran. As readers know, I have been screaming against the administration's plans to attack Iran for quite some time -- and I shall continue to do so.
That said, I wonder why the Bush administration has not used the possible Hammoud/Hezbollah/911 links for propaganda purposes? Perhaps (one could argue) they hesitate because the available evidence does not allow one to speak definitively of such a linkage. Of course, a lack of hard evidence has never before deterred this administration's propagandists.
Conceivably, the Bushites may -- as we shall see -- have personal reasons for not wanting much light shed on this corner of the terrorist infrastructure. Wissam Hammoud seems to have had a powerful "guardian angel" or two:
In 1999 Hammoud and two pals, Mohamed Saad and Saad Saad, were stopped while attempting to board a flight in Tampa. Mohamed Saad owned a market which was raided in 2003 as part of a nationwide stolen baby formula scam. The owner of the property, Sami Al-Arian, was convicted of terrorism-related charges in Tampa last year.Hopsicker strongly hints that Hammoud ran a protected operation -- in a state run by Jeb Bush, in a district Katherine Harris calls home. (In the past, Hopsicker has directly linked with our unbeloved Kathy with a certain "spooky" flight school that played a major role in the Atta tale.)
The three men were heading to Detroit. In their luggage was an assault weapon and more than eleven pounds of ammunition, as well as what newspapers delicately called “other gun-related equipment.”
Even before 9/11, bringing a personal arsenal fit for paramilitary bank robbers in Los Angeles onboard a commercial flight was considered something of a faux pas.
What, ultimately, is Daniel Hopsicker getting at? He does not here state his underlying thesis directly, but the hints are unmistakable. The theory seems to be that jihadist terrorism relates to a massive smuggling ring, in which drugs are but one of the products. Moreover, these smugglers had, in turn, strong links to key figures within the Republican party.
This infrastructure of corruption granted the 911 plotters immunity. The crime could not be prevented -- and could not, after the fact, be fully investigated.
This key idea underlies many of Hopsicker's disparate investigations. It is a theory which I, for one, consider worthy of serious consideration.
Post script: I am a bit concerned that Hopsicker has cited Steve Emerson as a source. Emerson lied outrageously during the October Surprise controversy. I trust that man about as far as I can throw the collected World Trade Center rubble.