FROM THE DESK OF J. ORLIN GRABBE: 07/23/96
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The Downing of TWA Flight 800
by J. Orlin Grabbe
Terrorists who want to arm themselves for
operations in the U.S. do not need to search in foreign locales
like Afghanistan. They can find all the material they need right
here at home. According to military sources, over 200
Stinger missiles are missing from inventory in U.S. military
bases--places like Ft. Campbell and Ft. Knox.
That TWA Flight 800 was taken out by a ground-to-
air missile was known from the beginning by U.S. official
agencies. The flight path of the missile was captured both on
radar and by satellite. The only question was the identity of
the missile and the identity of the group responsible.
You wouldn't know this, of course, if you watched the
endless "press briefings" on television news. Since the U.S.
government had no idea of how to handle the matter--both in
the real sense and in the PR sense--official bodies like the
White House and the FBI stalled for time. They talked about
not all the evidence being in, occasionally mumbling something
about a bomb. They even hinted darkly that Greece could be
responsible--the plane had stopped there--even though the
TWA aircraft had more recently spent three hours on the
ground in Kennedy airport, being cleaned, refueled, and
checked for mechanical problems.
A Stinger missile does not require a lot in the way of
logistics. It can be fired from a small boat. One doesn't need
a cabin cruiser. A 16-foot craft and a missile launcher will do.
After the job is over, one simply sinks the boat with the
launcher some distance off shore. Standard operating
Some experts involved in the TWA Flight 800
investigation have no doubt a Stinger or very similar missile
was responsible for the takedown of the plane. Flight 800
had taken off from Long Island and entered the Boston air
corridor in the process of "stacking out". It was only at
around 7000 feet altitude when the apparent Stinger hit the
747 airplane skin underneath the fuel tank. That was the first
explosion. Then the 11,000 gallons of on-board fuel ignited in
a white heat--this in turn igniting the aluminum of the plane
body in much the same way that the surrounding burning
material ignites the magnesium chips in a holiday sparkler.
The second explosion left few large aircraft parts to be later
pinpointed by sonar.
The group responsible, identified by intelligence
sources as working on behalf of Syria, say there are five more
planes to go. One assumes this means they have five more
Stingers. (Some Sidewinders are also missing from military
inventory). The group means serious business. We saw their
handiwork even before TWA flight 800: the knock-out of the
energy grid that left some fifteen western states with partial
electrical blackouts on July 2. The reason for this blackout
was quickly hushed up by government officials. The media
obligingly turned their attention elsewhere, waiting to be
awakened from their lethargy when the group strikes again.
July 23, 1996
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