Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 
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Afghanistan, "Terrorism" and Blowback: A Chronology
by
Janette Rainwater, Ph.D.

                                p9

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

July 3, 1988    The USS Vincennes fires two missiles, shooting down the regularly scheduled Iran Air Flight 655 over Hangam Island in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 passengers and crew. Over 60 of the victims were children. Several US ships were in the area to protect tankers bringing oil to the west from Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war. The gung-ho captain of the Vincennes, eager for an engagement with the Iranian gunboats that were routinely harassing the tankers, took his ship into the area against orders. He was actually within Iranian territorial waters when his $400 million Aegis computer system mistook the Iran Air plane for a much smaller F-14 fighter plane and fired two missiles.

The Pentagon went into instant cover-up mode for this "tragic accident." They said the commercial plane was outside its air corridor, was descending onto the Vincennes, and failing to respond to the "Identify: Friend or Foe?" query. Captain Rogers denied that he had been within Iranian territorial waters and claimed that his ship was rushing to the defense of merchant ship Stovall which was under attack. It was proven, however, that the commercial plane was at the center of its corridor and climbing. There was no Stovall; radio messages regarding it were part of a sting operation designed to lure out Iranian gunboats. The Pentagon was fully aware of the true facts by July 14 when Vice President Bush defended the US before the UN Security Council. Without acknowledging liability the United States later paid nearly $3 million to non-Iranian relatives of Flight 655's passengers. (Iranians were excluded because Iran had filed a claim against the United States in international court.) The Supreme Court upheld a lower court's dismissal of a law suit by the families, saying that neither the government nor the contractors of the Aegis system can be sued for negligence by the military in wartime. "There can be no doubt that during the 'tanker war' a 'time of war' existed." Newsweek, July 13, 1992; Liability Week, June 14, 1993.]

August 17, 1988    The mysterious plane crash of a Pakistan Air Force C-130 kills General Zia, General Akhtar Abdel Rahman Khan (the former head of ISI and Zia's most probable successor), US Ambassador Arnold Raphel, US Brigadier General Herbert Wassom (defense attaché in Islamabad), eight Pakistani generals and the air crew. [The party had been viewing the test demonstration of a tank the Pentagon was hoping to sell to Pakistan. The plane dove and struck the ground shortly after takeoff. The Pakistani board of inquiry came to the (unpublished) conclusion that the pilot had been knocked out by some chemical agent probably brought aboard the plane in a thermos or soft drink can. A US air force inquiry (and Raphel's divorced wife, later Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Ambassador to Tunis) maintained that the plane had a faulty hydraulic system. The retired head of ISI's Afghanistan bureau believes that the US was not sorry to see Zia go. With the war winding down, the US was trying to curb the power of the Islamists and prevent the extremist leaders such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Burhaneddin Rabbani from taking over Kabul. General Zia attempted to subvert this maneuvering and supported the ISI opposition to the suggestion of the CIA that they should funnel arms and supplies to the mujaheddin directly, bypassing the ISI. (In 1990 the CIA did take over.) Cooley, pp. 225-226; Mohammed Youssaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap (1992).]

December 21, 1988    Blowback over Scotland---- for Iran Air 655? For the bombing of Benghazi?: Pan Am Flight #103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland from Semtex that had been secreted in a cassette recorder. All 259 passengers and crew are killed as well as 11 victims on the ground. The warning of a bomb threat had been posted in the snack bar of the US Embassy in Moscow, but the traveling public in general was not warned. More to come.

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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