Intelligence sources are now speculating that the Korean Air 747 freight jumbo jet which crashed after take-off in
England on 22 December was blown up by a terrorist bomb. John Howard reports.
Sources reveal that the crash took place only hours after the 11th anniversary of the downed Pan Am flight 103 over
Lockerbie in Scotland with the loss of 270 lives. Using the Jewish calendar, the dates of the two crashes were exactly
11 years apart - 13 Tevet.
"Dates are very important to these people and you have to believe there is a message here, the sources said.
Witnesses report an explosion, including a bright flash followed by flames in mid-air only minutes after the Korean 747
The Korean Air cargo plane is said to have been carrying NATO military equipment headed for Italy but this has not been
Osama bin Laden's militant forces are key suspects, as they are in the India Airlines hijacking with that plane still on
the ground in Afghanistan, the suggested home of bin Laden's base of operations.
The downing of the Korean Air cargo flight and the hijacking of India Airlines flight 814 are seen as possible first
strikes in a long-expected assault as part of bin Laden's declared jihad (holy war) against the US, Israel and India.
The attacks are seen as an indication that bin Laden is making good on his pledge to mount "pitiless and violent
attacks" against targets worldwide.
The Indian Airlines hijackers are demanding the release of Malauna Masood Azghar, the leader of a Kashmir militant
group, Harkat al Mujahideen. He was convicted for the kidnap and murder of five western tourists in 1995.
Azghar has camps in eastern Afghanistan near bin Laden's base. He receives training from bin Laden, just as many similar
groups receive assistance from him.
The hijacked India Airlines jet sits on a runway just a short distance from one of bin Laden's hideouts.
Meanwhile, it was suspected terrorist Ahmed Ressam, who was trained by bin Laden, who was captured driving a car loaded
with explosives into Washington state recently. And another suspected terrorist, Lucia Garafola, was stopped at the
Vermont border. The FBI claims she has ties to Algerian Islamic groups supported by bin Laden. Her car did not contain
explosives but it did test positive for traces of explosive materials.
The FBI has issued warnings to all Americans at home and abroad. They should also be cautious about opening packages
mailed from Frankfurt in Germany, it says.
Times Square will also take on an air of siege on New Years Eve as hundreds of thousands gather to watch the crystal
ball drop signalling Year 2000. All sewerage and stormwater pipes are being physically checked, manhole covers sealed,
rubbish bins moved and mail boxes locked. Thousands of police will be on duty and the military will be holed-up in
In England the City of London is being locked-down with only pedestrian traffic allowed and just 7 entrances and exits.
Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has called a red alert.