Saturday, September 29, 2001

Chesley laments lack of Egyptair insights




By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Had the United States investigated the 1999 crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, it might have exposed the terrorist network that attacked the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Cincinnati lawyer Stanley M. Chesley said Friday.

        Egypt blocked the probe and insisted the pilot was blameless, Mr. Chesley said, and U.S. officials backed off rather than roil relations with an ally.

        The same thing happened when bombs killed Americans in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, he said, and that denied U.S. intelligence agencies information that might have uncovered a terrorist network.

Chesley
Chesley
        Mr. Chesley represents three passengers who died in the Oct. 31 crash of the EgyptAir Boeing 767 off Nantucket Island.

        He rejects any suggestion that the pilot flew the plane into the Atlantic merely to commit suicide. Rather, Mr. Chesley said, all of the evidence suggests the pilot died in a terrorist act.

        “If someone is going to commit suicide, he doesn't take 217 people with him,” Mr. Chesley said.

        He said he will use the power of the U.S. courts, where he is suing EgyptAir, to probe that possibility “but it's going to be difficult. It's pretty hard to get cooperation from the Egyptian government.”

        Mr. Chesley cannot tie the EgyptAir crash to the four hijackings on Sept. 11 yet, but if the 1999 crash was a terrorist act, he might show it was a “warmup” for Sept. 11.

        The lawyer, a specialist in complex cases and suits involving large numbers of dead and injured, said he is talking with senators and members of Congress about a law to avoid a repeat of the frustrated probes.

        He said the proposed law would impose sanctions on any country that blocked a “dominant” role of American investigators where U.S. citizens are killed by a terrorist.

        Such a law might have made it possible to thoroughly investigate attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and might have compelled Egypt to be more cooperative, Mr. Chesley said.

        He would not say whether he is representing anyone on the four hijacked planes Sept. 11 or among the thousands killed in the World Trade Center or Pentagon.

       



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