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November 2001 New York Plane Crash Was Terrorist Attack Says 'Al-Qaeda' Operative

National Post | August 27 2004

A captured al-Qaeda operative has told Canadian intelligence investigators that a Montreal man who trained in Afghanistan alongside the 9/11 hijackers was responsible for the crash of an American Airlines flight in New York three years ago.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents were told during five days of interviews with the source that Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen also known as Farouk the Tunisian, had downed the plane with explosives on Nov. 12, 2001.

The source claimed Jdey had used his Canadian passport to board Flight 587 and "conducted a suicide mission" with a small bomb similar to the one used by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, a "Top Secret" Canadian government report says.

But officials said it was unlikely Jdey was actually involved in the crash, which killed 265 people and is considered accidental. The fact that al-Qaeda attributed the crash to Jdey, however, suggests they were expecting him to attack a plane.

"We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident here," said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell -- at least that's been relayed to us -- that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have, is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin."

Jdey, 39, came to Canada from Tunisia in 1991 and became a citizen in 1995. Shortly after getting his Canadian passport, he left for Afghanistan and trained with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, according to the 9/11 commission in the United States.

He recorded a "martyrdom" video, but was dropped from the 9/11 mission after returning to Canada in the summer of 2001. The planner of the World Trade Center attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claims Jdey was recruited for a "second wave" of suicide attacks.

The FBI issued an alert seeking Jdey's whereabouts in 2002. John Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney-General, told a news conference in May that Jdey was one of seven al-Qaeda associates "sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States."

The information on Jdey's alleged role in the plane crash is contained in a memo on captured Canadian al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Mansour Jabarah. The Canadian government memo was written in May, 2002, and was based on information provided by a "source of unknown reliability."

Jabarah is a 22-year-old from St. Catharines who allegedly joined al-Qaeda and convinced Osama bin Laden to give him a terror assignment. He was tasked with overseeing a suicide-bombing operation in Southeast Asia, but was caught and has since pleaded guilty in the United States.

The report, which was sent to the Philippine National Police intelligence directorate, recounts what Jabarah said he was told about the U.S. plane crash by Abu Abdelrahman, a Saudi al-Qaeda member who was working for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"In discussions, Abu Abdelrahman mentioned AL QAIDA was responsible for the assassination of Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader," the report says. "According to the source, Abu Abdelrahman added that the 12 November 2001 plane crash (btb American Airlines flight 587) in Queens, New York was not an accident as reported in the press but was actually an AL QAIDA operation.

"Abu Abdelrahman informed Jabarah that Farouk the Tunisian conducted a suicide mission on the aeroplane using a shoe bomb of the type used by Richard Reid .... 'Farouk the Tunisian' was identified from newspaper photographs as being identical to Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen who had resided in Montreal."

Jabarah was initially suspect of the claim about Jdey, but he later believed it after he saw the same information on a "mujahedin Web site," the report says.

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