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Assassination of Rabbi Kahane

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From "The Cell – Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It," by John Miller and Michael Stone, with Chris Mitchell (Hyperion, NY, 2002).

p. 36: "A new cycle of terror was about to being however. The first harbinger was a stocky Egyptian janitor who took it upon himself to assassinate a radical Jewish leader in New York City hotel ballroom. (Neil ) Herman and his JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) investigators understood almost immediately that the gunman belonged to a larger movement, and as the years passed, leads crossed and the movement's violence escalated, the task force came to see that this terrorist organization was unlike any that had come before it."

(p. 38): "Rabbi Meir Kahane finished his speech to rousing applause. The fiery orator had touched on lifelong themes: the immigration of Jews to, and expulsion of Palestinians from, Israel."

"As he stepped down from the podium and into the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in midtown Manhattan that evening, Kahane, the 58-year old founder of the Jewish Defense League and former member of the Israeli Parliament, was surrounded by followers."

"It was November 5, 1990. Opposite Kahane, at the back of the hall, a 35-year old Egyptian-born militant named El Sayyuid Nossair met with his friend, Bilall Akaisi. 'It looks okay,' Nosair told him. 'I think I can do it.'"

"Alkaisi glanced nervously around the room. A wiry Palestinian with a trim black beard, he was armed and, like the stocky, sallow-skinned Nosair, was wearing a yarmulke for disguise. The two men had similar conferrals in the past. For more than a year, they'd been attending Kahane's speaking engagements with the understanding that if his security seemed lax, they'd kill him. 'Relax,' BGilall said, 'I'll be back in a moment.'"

"Maybe Alkaisi didn't believe Nosair would actually shoot Kahane. Or maybe he didn't want to be involved if he did. Whatever his motivation, Alkaisi left for the men's room."

"Nosair draped a coat over his arm, drew a .357 Magnum revolver from his waistband and ambled to the front of the hall. A young man was videotaping Kahane as the rabbi chatted with his circle of admirers. Nosair paused at the fringe of the crowd until he camera stopped rolling. Then, aiming the revolver from his hip, Nosair slipped the coat and fired twice, hitting Kahane in his neck and chest."

"As Kahane slumped to the floor, Nosair dashed for the rear exit. The room was in chaos. People were screaming. Nosair began screaming too. 'It's Allah's will,' he yelled."

"At the door, Irving Franklin, a 70 year-old Jewish activist, grabbed Nosair in a bear hug, Nosair shot him in the leg and continued fleeing. Outside the hotel, he clambered into a waiting taxi on Lexington Avenue and banged to the divider, expecting to see the face of his friend Mahmoud Abouhalima, the giant red-headed Egyptian who some investigators thought was supposed to drive the getaway car. Instead he saw the fear-stricken face of an Hispanic man from the Bronx. Hotel security had shooed Abouhalima from the entrance."

"Nosair ordered him, 'Just go.' But the taxi barely made it to the next corner south before traffic, and a red light, halted their progress. A crowd from the hotel was now coursing through the lines of cars, searching for Kahane's shooter. Nosair hunched down in the backseat of the cab, but one of his pursuers spotted him and began banging on the window. In the confusion, the taxi driver jumped out from behind the wheel, while Nosair slipped out the other side of the cab in front of the Grand Central Station Post Office."

"Carlos Acosta, a uniformed U.S. postal police officer, was standing at the entrance. Assuming he's stumbled onto a delivery car hold-up, he ducked back into the doorway and reached for his gun. Nosair, determined to keep heading downtown past Acosta, edged along the building façade, hoping to get a shot off as he ran past the doorway. But Acosta popped out and confronted him first."

"Both men fired at once. Nosair got off two shots. The first bullet hit Acosta in the chest, but was deflected into his shoulder by the bulletproof vest he was wearing. The second whizzed past his head. Acosta fired just once. But it was enough. The bullet hit Nosair in the neck and chin, rupturing his jugular and knocking him to the ground."

"Nosair's accomplice, Bilall Alkaisi, meanwhile, had exited the hotel. He jogged a few blocks south to Nosair's parked green sedan and slid behind the wheel, shouldering the driver, a Palestinian named Mohammed Salameh, into the passenger's seat. Alkaisi didn't wait to find out what had happened to Nosair before flooring the accelerator. Witnesses later reported seeing two bug-eyed Middle Eastern men in the front seat of a green sedan careening the wrong way down Park Avenue."

"As the sedan disappeared into traffic, Nosair was rushed downtown to Bellevue Hospital. He arrived in the emergency room moments after Kahane had been carried in from another ambulance."

"….. 'when detectives got to Nosair's apartment, it's like one in the morning,' (NYPD detective Steve) Davis told me. 'They knock on the door….and the door flies open and there's a giant Arab guy with red hair standing on the other side like he was waiting there all along.' Davis said there were two men in the apartment. One of them, the redhead, was Mahmoud Abouhalima, the New York cab driver. The other was Mohammed Salameh. Both admitted the not only knew Nosair, who no longer lived in the building, but also they had been at the hotel when the murder occurred. They were hauled in for further questioning at he 17th Precinct stationhouse on East 51st Street."

[Later that day, at One Police Plaza NYPD HQ. ]

"…. 'Can you tell me this was the work of one man?' the chief (Joseph Borelli) asked."

" 'Absolutely not,' replied (NYPD Lt. Edward) Norris, and he began telling (Chief Joseph) Borelli about the two suspects he was holding at the precinct."

" 'You shut up,' Borelli snapped. 'You do murder cases. They,' he said, pointing at the surprised FBI agents, 'do conspiracies.'"

"Norris was then told he didn't have enough evidence to hold Abouhalima and Salameh. He was instructed to let them go."

"Later, at a packed news conference, Borelli announced that Kahane's murder appeared to be the work of a 'lone, deranged gunman,' with no ties to known terrorists or Middle East conspiracies."


"….Before the day was out, Norris's detectives had tracked down Nosair's real address. Nosair had been living in a small rented house in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, a bedroom community just off the George Washington Bridge. I (Miller) waited in front of the house as the detectives and some FBI agents from JTTF carried out some 16 boxes of files. Those files would raise a hell of a lot more questions than answers. There were training manuals from the Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg. There were copies of teletypes that had been routed to the Secretary of the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (How had Nosair come up with those? Clearly, he had a source in a sensitive position in the U.S. military.) There were also bomb-making manuals, as well as maps of landmark locations like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center, with notes written in Arabic. The papers were all carted to the 17th Precinct stationhouse, where Norris's squad could go through them to prepare for Nosair's murder trail."

"The next day, Barry Slotnick told me, 'You know, Nossair had a hit list,'….On the third say after the shooting, while Norris was out to lunch, the FBI removed Nosair's 16 boxes of files from Norris's squad room. Unfortunately the evidence was about to enter a black hole. The FBI now says it turned the files over to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, after it was decided, following a series of meetings and phone calls, that the local prosecutor and the NYPD would have exclusive jurisdiction over the murder case. The Manhattan DA's office won't comment on what was done with the files before Nosair's trail, though Norris was never informed they were available. But this much is certain: The bulk of the material remained untranslated and unread for nearly three years."

"Many officials, Norris among them, have since claimed that the files provided a virtual road map to future terrorist acts, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Along with military documents, the bomb manuals, and diagrams and photos of New York landmarks, the Nosair papers contained a manifesto exhorting his associates to topple the 'tall buildings of which the Americans are so proud."

"What's more, says Norris, his squad would have had the files translated as a matter of procedure if they had remained in the NYPD's possession. 'If we'd kept the files, we'd have to have to translate them,' he says. 'We couldn't go on the witness stand in a murder trial and say, 'Yeah, we had all this material, but we didn't read it.'"

"….In fact, in any attempt to understand the events of September 11, 2001, it makes sense to begin with El Sayyid Nosair. That's where the law enforcement aspect of September 11 story began, and where American law enforcement agencies first revealed themselves to be institutionally ill-equipped for the war this new enemy had brought to U.S. shores."

[bK notes: In addition, if the source of Nosair's national security records (U.S. Army Special Forces Manuals from Fort Bragg) had been immediately traced to Ali Mohamid, as they should have been, the double-agent trainer of the Blind Shek's al Qaeda cell would have been discovered and neutralized much sooner than he was.]

Edited by William Kelly
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Auhtor Peter Lance makes a extremely convincing case in his books that the Kahane assasination was the first Al-QUeda attack on US soil, through Nossair's ties to Yousef and the blind sheik.

Yea Scott,

While I had read about the Kahane assassination in Miller's "The Cell," I didn't recognize it's significance until Peter Dale Scott's Dallas COPA 2006 talk and read Lance's book, which adds more detail to the story.


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