Accuracy in Media

In the wake of U.S. military strikes on facilities allegedly linked to international terrorist Osama bin Laden, Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times was one of the few journalists drawing attention to the reluctance of this administration to avenge the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Scarborough noted that bin Laden is suspected of bankrolling this terrorist incident, which left 19 American servicemen dead and scores injured, and which was reportedly carried out with Iranian government support.

As we have previously noted, the evidence connecting Iran to this terrorist incident was the subject of a report by John McWethy of ABC World News Tonight last May 27. He cited overwhelming evidence of Iranian involvement in the Khobar attack. He said the evidence included U.S. intercepts of Iranian communications and admissions of Iranian involvement by the bombers themselves. McWethy said the bombers were recruited by Iran during a trip to an Islamic meeting in Syria, took religious training in Iran, and terrorist training in Lebanon.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, journalist Kenneth R. Timmerman not only noted evidence of an Iranian link to the Khobar Towers bombing but suggested an Iranian link to the destruction of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996. He reported, “On three separate occasions before TWA flight 800 went down off the Long Island coast in July 1996, the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration received explicit warnings that Iran was planning an attack against a U.S. airliner ‘originating in Athens, Greece.’ TWA 800 arrived in New York from Athens, before being refueled for its flight to Paris on July 17

Timmerman, who writes for Reader’s Digest and publishes The Iran Brief, an investigative newsletter, went on to note that U.S. Navy commander William Donaldson had recently issued a report on the TWA crash pointing to a foreign terrorist attack. Although there is still doubt over who was responsible for the destruction of TWA Flight 800, Donaldson has expressed his personal view that the likely culprit was Iran. Timmerman commented that if Iran was linked to the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Africa, its government “must pay a high price.”

Instead, of course, the so-called “independent” terrorist, Osama bin Laden, has now been blamed by the administration for the attacks. This was convenient for an administration that has tried to avoid confronting state sponsors of terrorism, including Iran and Iraq. But Timmerman cited evidence that the Iranian government “transmits orders and explosives to the bin Laden networks through high-level intelligence emissaries it dispatches to Syria.”

While the satellite photographs of the alleged terrorist facilities in Afghanistan were very impressive to the American people, similar photographs exist of more such camps in Iran. In fact, the August 2, 1996 USA Today identified a network of 11 different terrorist-training facilities in Iran, citing classified U.S. intelligence documents. Up to 5,000 men and women were said to be training at these camps, in contrast to the 3,000 forces allegedly commanded by bin Laden who are based around the world. Yet no U.S. action has ever been taken by Clinton against the Iranian camps.

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