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Syria and TWA Flight 800

by J. Orlin Grabbe

TWA Flight 800 was taken down by a Stinger missile which hit the plane at an altitude very close to 7600 feet. Stingers are available that reach 15,000 feet, and the plane was well within range. (The "13,700 feet in altitude" endlessly repeated on the news was created out of thin air as sheer government disinformation. However, the disinformation campaign is rapidly fizzling: too many military and intelligence people are fuming over the FBI's campaign of lies.)

Why is it known that the Western states blackout on July 2 and the downing of TWA Flight 800 are related? For the simple reasons that the same group gave advance warning of the incidents to an official body of the U.S. government. (You know who you are: you've been on TV a lot these days.)

The group, funded by Syria, has promised more incidents to come, including plane shoot-downs. Syria's general purpose in this campaign seems to be a general "Don't tread on me" warning. That is, the purpose of the advance announcements appears to make the point: We can do anything we want to you at any time. So when the U.S. leans on Syria, it will have already been established that Syria knows how to lean back on the U.S.

The fact TWA Flight 800 was on its way to Paris, with many French citizens on board, is not coincidence. The message is being delivered both to France and the U.S. The U.S. and France have been leaning on Syria to revive talks with the Israelis. Relationships are deteriorating.

What should the U.S. do in the present context? Should it install anti-missile systems around every airport? Should armed guards be posted at power stations? Or should a message be sent directly to Hafez al-Assad?

In any case, keep an eye on Syria. I can think of 101 fast reasons to do so.

July 28, 1996