Internet Hoaxes: Oliver North Naming Bin Laden
There's another internet e-mail hoax going around. We received it today, but it has been in circulation for a while. It has two parts, the first concerning Oliver North and the second about Mohammad Attah.
The e-mail says that Oliver North testified at the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings before Congress that he had bought an expensive home security system to protect himself from Osama bin Laden, who North said wanted to assassinate him. This was years before bin Laden emerged as a suspected terrorist leader. The phony email goes on to say that North was asked what he would do about Bin Laden and that he replied, "Well, sir, if it was up to me, I would recommend that an assassin team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth." Lastly, the email says Al Gore was the Senator asking the questions.
According to ABC News, 11/29/01, "North did indeed testify about his need for protection. But a review of the hearing transcripts shows he was talking about Abu Nidal, leader of a terrorist group responsible for airport shootings and other attacks in the Middle East in the 1980s. (Nightline, 11/19/01; 20/20, 11/21/01)"
Here is the Nightline transcript which ran the tape of that portion of North's 1987 testimony:
JOHN DONVAN: An e-mail that's making the rounds these days has an air of authenticity about it. It is about Oliver North's 1987 nationally televised testimony before Congress. In tonight's Fact Check, the e-mails quote North as saying he and his family installed an expensive security system after they were threatened. "Threatened by whom?" "By a terrorist, sir." "Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?" "His name is Osama bin Laden, sir." We went into the tape archives and this is what was really said.
(Beginning of footage from July 8, 1987)
Mr. OLIVER NORTH: The issue of the security system was first broached immediately after a threat on my life by Abu Nidal. Abu Nidal is, as I'm sure you on the intelligence committees know, the principal, foremost assassin in the world today. He is a brutal murderer.
DONVAN: Abu Nidal is thought to be living in Iraq under the protection of Saddam Hussein.
Nor was it Al Gore who questioned Oliver North. It was committee counsel John Nields, who is not even a senator. Oliver North responded to the false email as follows (his caps, not ours):
1. IT WAS THE COMMITTEE COUNSEL, JOHN NIELDS, NOT A SENATOR WHO WAS DOING THE QUESTIONING.
2. THE SECURITY SYSTEM, INSTALLED AT MY HOME, JUST BEFORE I MADE A VERY SECRET TRIP TO TEHRAN, COST, ACCORDING TO THE COMMITTEE, $16K, NOT $60K.
3. THE TERRORIST WHO THREATENED TO KILL ME IN 1986, JUST BEFORE THAT SECRET TRIP TO TEHRAN, WAS NOT USAMA BIN LADEN, IT WAS ABU NIDAL (WHO WORKS FOR THE LIBYANS -- NOT THE TALIBAN AND NOT IN AFGHANISTAN).
4. I NEVER SAID I WAS AFRAID OF ANYBODY. I DID SAY THAT I WOULD BE GLAD TO MEET ABU NIDAL ON EQUAL TERMS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD BUT THAT I WAS UNWILLING TO HAVE HIM OR HIS OPERATIVES MEET MY WIFE AND CHILDREN ON HIS TERMS.
5. I DID SAY THAT THE TERRORISTS INTERCEPTED BY THE FBI ON THE WAY TO MY HOUSE IN FEB. 87 TO KILL MY WIFE, CHILDREN AND ME WERE LIBYANS, DISPATCHED FROM THE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE FOR LIBYAN STUDENTS IN MCLEAN, VIRGINIA.
6. AND I DID SAY THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAD MOVED MY FAMILY OUT OF OUR HOME TO A MILITARY BASE (CAMP LEJEUNE, NC) UNTIL THEY COULD DISPATCH MORE THAN 30 AGENTS TO PROTECT MY FAMILY FROM THOSE TERRORISTS (BECAUSE A LIBERAL FEDERAL JUDGE HAD ALLOWED THE LYBIAN ASSASSINS TO POST BOND AND THEY FLED).
7. AND, FYI: THOSE FEDERAL AGENTS REMAINED AT OUR HOME UNTIL I RETIRED FROM THE MARINES AND WAS NO LONGER A "GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL." BY THEN, THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT HAD SPENT MORE THAN $2M PROTECTING THE NORTH FAMILY. THE TERRORISTS SENT TO KILL US WERE NEVER RE-APPREHENDED.
OLIVER L. NORTH
A second phony email claims Mohammed Attah blew up a bus in Israel in 1986, was captured and imprisoned, but Clinton and Warren Christopher demanded his release as part of the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, whereby Israel had to agree to release so-called "political prisoners." Thus, the email claims, Mr. Atta was freed and able to commit the World Trade Center attacks.
Turns out it wasn't Mohammed Attah at all, but a Mahmoud Mahmoud Atta, who bombed an Israel bus in 1986 and was captured in Venezuela in 1987. He was deported to the US who then allowed Israel to extradite him there. In 1991, he was convicted in Israel and sentenced to life.
Many news organizations picked up the false story, but the Boston Globe caught it by checking the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals records on the extradition case.
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