Terrorism suspect reportedly had his escape planned Bombing strategy highly detailed

June 28, 1993|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- The ringleader of the plot to terrorize New York City with a medley of well-orchestrated bombings had planned to flee to the Philippines, sources close to the investigation have revealed.

Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, a Muslim fundamentalist accused of being the ringleader of the plan to bomb the United Nations, the Federal Building and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, had, by the time of his arrest Thursday, already sold his furniture and home computer, a federal law enforcement source said.

The source said the evidence shows that Mr. Ali, and possibly some of his alleged co-conspirators, planned to go to the Philippines after the attacks.

"He may have intended to go on elsewhere from there," said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another suspect, Clement Hampton-El, had spoken to a travel agency about going to the Philippines, according to sources.

What emerges from interviews with sources close to the case is a plan of painstaking precision that was allegedly masterminded by Mr. Ali. Planning began 2 1/2 months ago.

The plot to bomb the U.N. complex, the Federal Building and the Hudson River tunnels began to take shape on May 1, when Mr. Ali allegedly told a federal informant that he planned to use three cars for a bombing at 26 Federal Plaza, sources said.

On May 7, he met with the informant, Emad Ali Salem, in Jersey City, N.J., to discuss a plan to drive a car into the U.N. complex, where a bomb would be detonated, according to the complaint.

ABC's "Nightline" show reported that two members of the Sudanese mission to the United Nations planned to provide diplomatic passes that would have allowed the suspects access to the United Nations' underground parking garage, where the suspects would drive a car loaded with explosives.

On May 18, Mr. Ali allegedly told Mr. Salem that the Federal Building housing the FBI's New York headquarters was another possible target. On May 23, he elaborated by saying they could gain access to the building by "killing the security personnel stationed outside," according to the complaint.

At that meeting, Mr. Ali is said to have had sketches of the entrances and discussed plans to use a rental car rigged with explosives, possibly a mixture of fertilizer and diesel oil.

On May 25, Mr. Ali discussed using two grenades for several targets, including the United Nations and the Federal Building, according to the complaint.

Two days later, several suspects allegedly met in a Queens garage that Mr. Salem rented with $300 provided by Mr. Ali, where the deadly concoction would be mixed. There, they tested a timing device to detonate a bomb, according to the complaint.

Mr. Ali was joined by Fares Khalafalla and Amir Abdelgani. Mr. Ali allegedly told the men that three bombs should be detonated in different locations and at different times of day.

By May 29, the plan included bombing the tunnels linking Manhattan and New Jersey. Mr. Ali allegedly said the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels should be bombed sometime between the detonation of explosives at the United Nations and the Federal Building.

On June 4, Mr. Ali and the informant went to suburban Yonkers, N.Y., to recruit Mohammad Saleh, a Jordanian businessman who became an active participant, federal sources said. He allegedly helped mix the volatile substances to be used in the bombs at the safe-house garage in Queens.

On June 19, Mr. Abdelgani and Mr. Khalafalla paid $300 to help Mr. Saleh obtain cars needed to transport the homemade bombs, according to the complaint. By Wednesday, when two unidentified men brought fuel to the Queens bomb factory from a Yonkers gas station operated by Mr. Saleh, the FBI was poised to move in.

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