Paul DeRienzo's interview with William Kunstler about the role of Emad Salem in the World Trade Center bombing trial. Broadcast on WBAI Aug. 3, 1993

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The Octopus Conspiracy
ROOTS OF TERROR

Who Bombed The World Trade Center? FBI Bomb Builders Exposed

Photos from Ground Zero

ARTICLES INDEX

JOSE SANTIAGO… And in New York City, the conspiracy case against eleven men charged with plotting to bomb city landmarks was in court today. A suspect in the case, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali declared his innocence before United States District Court Judge Michael Mukasey, and he said he intended to retain attorney William Kuntsler. Kunstler is also representing co-defendant Ibrahim El-Gabrowny. Judge Mukasey has warned he will put Government agents under oath to determine the sources of leaks in the case. Kunstler has argued that the leaks are making it difficult to find an unbiased jury.

Speaking at a forum last week, Kunstler laid out the strategy, which he plans to follow in the trial. The renowned defense attorney says he plans to attack the credibility of the Government’s star witness. More on the story from Paul DeRienzo.

PAUL DeRIENZO: Eleven people have been charged in the alleged plot to bomb the United Nations building, FBI Headquarters, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. According to the FBI, the conspirators were captured on June 24th in the act of mixing bomb-making chemicals at a rented garage in Queens, New York. The alleged ring leader of the plot was Siddig Ali. But several days later, Ibrahim El-Gabrowny was indicted in the same scheme.

El-Gabrowny has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan since his arrest shortly after the World Trade Center bombing. He wasn’t charged in that attack but on lesser charges of obstruction of justice and possession of five forged Nicaraguan passports. The passports contain the names and photos of El Sayyid Nosair and his family.

Nosair is in Attica Prison doing time on gun charges related to the assassination of right-wing Jewish leader, Meir Kahane. The Government alleges that the passports were part of a plot to break Nosair out of jail, but attorney William Kunstler says that the Government’s case is a product of the FBI’s confidential informant, Emad Salem, a former Egyptian Army officer.

WILLIAM KUNSTLER: It was Salem who asked El-Gabrowny, some time ago, for pictures of the Nosair family. He said he wanted to use them for fund raising purposes. He took the pictures and attached them to phony Nicaraguan passports which had been outlawed by [Nicaraguan President] Mrs. Chamorro as soon as she replaced the Sandanista Government. So the passports were invalid to start with. He gave the passports back to El-Gabrowny, and he said to El-Gabrowny: "We can break this man out of Attica Correctional Facility and then get him off to Nicaragua with these passports.

El-Gabrowny told him that was a crazy scheme and that he would have none of it.

PAUL DeRIENZO: El-Gabrowny’s trial for possessing the forged passports is due to begin today. But last week, the Government convened a grand jury that combined the cases of the men charged in the conspiracy to bomb city landmarks with El-Gabrowny’s case. Kunstler says that the Government’s strategy was designed to eliminate the possibility of the informant, Emad Salem, from testifying in the relatively minor passport case because, says Kuntsler, Salem cannot afford too much public exposure as a witness. The source of Kunstler’s assertion is testimony in a civil trial several months ago after a car accident where Salem was the victim.

WILLIAM KUNSTLER: He [Salem] told the jury, under oath, that he had been one of [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat’s guards when Sadat was assassinated, and that he had five bullets in his body from that experience. You know, the Egyptian Government–and I believe this is the only truthful thing they’ve told yet–said that he had nothing to do with Sadat, that he was not his guard, at all. Secondly, he divulged that he had had amnesia since January of 1992, and that he had been going to a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Stein to help him with this situation. Thirdly, he committed bigamy here in New York, for which he is NOT being prosecuted. He married a woman here while he had a wife living in Egypt who was still his wife. Fourthly, they got rid of his Federal tax lien. The Government had a tax lien on him, and they got rid of that. And they also got rid…. he was marked as a persistent scofflaw by the parking bureau here. Twenty- two tickets in a very short period of time. They got rid of those tickets. And on the sheet of paper, which quashes the tickets, it says: "On Federal Business".

He [Salem] is the only real conspirator in this case.

PAUL DeRIENZO: Kunstler charges that the Government’s wiretaps back up his contention that the defendants were entrapped by Salem.

WILLIAM KUNSTLER: I’ve read a lot of the tapes by now–transcriptions of the tapes, which were just furnished to me today. Before I came here, I read some of them, and they are things like… having him [Salem] say:

"Well, I think we ought to bomb the George Washington Bridge. That’s a very good target. It would make the commuters raise hell with this Government of ours."

And so then Siddig Ali says:

"Yeah?"

[Salem]: "And I think" so and so…

[Ali]: "Yeah?"

…. and so on. That’s the way it goes, virtually throughout these HUNDREDS of pages of transcriptions. There are a hundred and fifty hours of tapes. A lot of them are in Arabic. Some are in English. But this is the kind of man they’re going to put on the [witness] stand.

PAUL DeRIENZO: Kunstler adds that Salem was the recipient of between two hundred fifty thousand and one million dollars for his services as an informant–plus moneys paid to him by other sources linked to foreign governments, including money from an organization founded by assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane.

WILLIAM KUNSTLER [attorney]: He [FBI informant Emad Salem] also received money from Kahane Chai, Rabbi Meir Kahane’s group. Probably from a lot of other people. [Israel’s secret service,] the Mossad is not someone to exclude. Probably [received money] from the Egyptian Government. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Egyptian Army, which apparently he was.

PAUL DeRIENZO: Kunstler said that, despite the United States Government’s move to protect the informant, he’s going to enjoy attacking Salem’s credibility during the trial.

WILLIAM KUNSTLER: He’s just a dirty son-of-a-bitch. But he’s THEIR son-of-a-bitch, you see. He’s not ours. And they did NOT want to expose him in this minor trial. We’re going to have a good time with him if only we can get the jury to think–think that maybe [our] Government DOES lie once in a while. Maybe Government wants to use this.

PAUL DeRIENZO: For WBAI News I’m Paul DeRienzo in New York

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