Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Crash — And EgyptAir Flight 990’s El-Batouty: An Arab O.J.?

By Nicholas Stix

August 21, 2000
Toogood Reports/A Different Drummer

“I rely on Allah (Tawakalt Ala Allah). I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah.”

On the night of October 31, 1999, the Muslim prayer above was spoken by First Officer Gameel El-Batouty, on EgyptAir Flight 990, as the Boeing 767 plummeted from the sky.

In early November, 1999, when the audio and mechanical (“black box”) transcripts of the flight were pieced together, it looked to both National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators and outside aviation experts like a slam-dunk: El-Batouty had murdered 216 passengers and crew members, and taken his own life.

But then, a chorus of outraged voices rose, from the Egyptian government and media, from EgyptAir, and more importantly, from pressure groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations, and pro-Islamic American academics, demanding silence. And so, silence reigned. The silence of the graveyard.

(More than a few Arabs initially claimed the Jews had done it, but the mainstream media quickly stopped reporting those claims.)

The baseless outrage in the face of a slew of incriminating facts reminded me of the black outrage that supported the Butcher of Brentwood, alias O.J. Simpson, when the former football great was caught red-socked in June, 1994, following the grisly murders of his estranged wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman. But in the case of EgyptAir Flight 990, the suspect was dead; hence, there was no sensational trial to keep the story alive.

With the August 11 release of the NTSB’s report on the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, in which 217 passengers and crew members died, El-Batouty’s words returned from the ashes.

El-Batouty had just relieved Capt. Mahmoud El-Habashy, the plane’s pilot. Seconds after Capt. El-Habashy left the cockpit, “someone” disengaged the automatic pilot and shut down the plane’s engines. But there was only one person in the cockpit: Gameel El-Batouty. Indeed, El-Batouty had told Capt. El-Habashy to leave plane in his hands, and take a break.

When the plane lurched downward, Capt. El-Habashy immediately returned to the cockpit, crying out to El-Batouty, “What’s happening, Gameel?! What’s happening?!

What was happening, was that 217 people were plummeting to their deaths.

An old friend and colleague of First Officer El-Batouty’s, Capt. Mohammed El-Bradrawi, told FBI interviewers that El-Batouty never prayed in the cockpit; such conduct was more typical of Capt. El-Habashy, who was a religious man. El-Batouty was not known to be very religious. In any event, it would not be proper behavior for a pilot with 12,538 hours of flight time, as El-Batouty had, to respond in an emergency to his captain’s commands for help, by repeating, mantra-like, a prayer.

(Many news reports have erroneously referred to El-Batouty as “captain.” As his old colleague and friend, Capt. El-Bradrawi, told FBI interviewers assisting the NTSB, El-Batouty had pointedly “refused to sit,” for the captain’s examination. Capt. El-Bradrawi said El-Batouty had not desired the responsibility of being a captain. However, based on El-Batouty’s long service, and former role as a flight instructor at the Egyptian Air Institute, younger colleagues usually addressed him as “captain.”)

By mid-November, 1999, the pro-Batouty propaganda offensive was in full swing.
I recall, at the time, sitting in a doctor’s office watching an apparently non-Islamic, female American professor from an Egyptian university speak with righteous indignation on CNN of the anti-Arab “stereotyping” involved in the news reports.

But the professor, like the Egyptian government and Islamic-American groups, had no exculpatory facts to support her accusation. Rather, she was engaging in stereotypical behavior, attacking any bad news about an Arab as “racist,” regardless of its factual basis. In effect, she and the Islamic groups were making Gameel El-Batouty a referendum on Arab-American relations.

Guess what? They lost the referendum.

Arab nationalists and their supporters’ idea of damage control was to demonize anyone raising a critical voice about El-Batouty. Instead of cutting their losses, they merely reinforced every ugly stereotype in existence about Arab Moslems as mad suicide bombers, zealots, “ragheads.” And add to that a new one: people so dishonest, you couldn’t trust them to give you the correct time of day.

The charge of “stereotyping” has become the last refuge of scoundrels — and the first place a scoundrel-hunter need seek his prey.

The best damage-control strategy is unqualified honesty.

Despite a lack of evidence for their position, EgyptAir and Egyptian government officials still insist that the crash was due to mechanical failure, and demand yet more tests. But although the NTSB’s painfully diplomatic chairman, James E. Hall, refused to offer a cause for the crash, he noted that “there were no unresolved safety issues.” In other words, mechanical failure was NOT a factor. Hall’s investigators have privately said that they are so sure that El-Batouty murdered the 216 passengers and crew members aboard Flight 990 that devoting any further resources to the investigation would be a waste of time. Meanwhile, Egyptian officials are obsessed with having the NTSB official who leaked some of the report shortly before its August 11 release found and prosecuted. Such a hunt for whistleblowers is not the conduct of people concerned with finding out the truth.

(Note that the NTSB official who leaked the report may actually be immune from prosecution under American whistleblower laws that protect government employees who leak information based on the reasonable belief that the government is seeking to cover up the facts. Whistleblower laws are unheard of in Egypt, and the Islamic world in general.)

Outside aviation experts have left no doubt as to their judgment: In an article in the Daily News, reporters Dave Goldiner and Pete Donohue quoted former NTSB investigator Chuck Leonard: “I don’t know how anyone could arrive at another conclusion,” than that El-Batouty deliberately crashed the airliner. The story also quoted Dowling College aviation expert Herb Armstrong: “Right from the start, this had the appearance of being intentional.” And an FBI interviewee was quoted in the NTSB report as saying that El-Batouty was “a tragedy waiting to happen.”

The Egyptian media and El-Batouty’s family are outraged by the reports implicating him.

In The New York Times, Matthew L. Wald reported that at the August 11 NTSB press conference, “at one point an Egyptian reporter asked Mr. Hall why the sexual accusations were relevant to the cause of the crash, and then began discussing President Clinton’s sexual activities in the Oval Office.”

And El-Batouty’s nephew, Walid El-Batouty, has charged, “They are attacking the dignity of an honored man, who has been honored by the Egyptian government. And so this hurts the feelings of all the Egyptian people.”

It ... “hurts the feelings of all the Egyptian people.”

Well, last October 31, 216 passengers and crew members got a lot more than their feelings hurt. And 100 of them, more than any other nationality, were Americans!

I couldn’t find any evidence in the NTSB report, or in media reports, of how a man who had refused to take the responsibility of becoming a captain, could have earned such accolades. However, Capt. El-Bradrawi, an old friend and colleague of El-Batouty’s, noted in his FBI interview that El-Batouty came from “a family of stature.” In Arab countries, only the sons of the most privileged families could ever dream of becoming airline pilots. Similarly, in Arab countries, the sons of such families need never fear being held up to ridicule by the government-controlled media, and their families’ feelings thus hurt.

If the Egyptians had wanted to guarantee the “correct” finding, they should have conducted the investigation themselves. After all, since Flight 990 was registered in Egypt, and crashed in international waters, Egypt had jurisdiction over the investigation. The Egyptian government chose instead to “delegate” the investigation to America. That couldn’t have had anything to do with the tens of millions of dollars the salvage and rescue operations, and testing, investigation, and analysis were bound to cost? Ah, but those who refused to pay the piper want, nonetheless, to call the tune.

And boy, are they sore!

But it gets better. Not only did the NTSB fail to put a good face on things, but the FBI investigators came up with more embarrassing information on El-Batouty. It seems that during his visits to New York, he would careen out of control. Several female guests and employees of midtown Manhattan’s Hotel Pennsylvania have claimed that he had variously exposed himself to them, followed them around, and (in the employees’ cases) constantly propositioned them. Apparently, Gameel El-Batouty — who liked to mix alcohol and Viagra during his New York layovers — had a hard time taking “no” for an answer. His nephew, Walid El-Batouty, called the new report, “assassination.”

Right. It was Gameel El-Batouty who was assassinated.

“I rely on Allah (Tawakalt Ala Allah). I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah. I rely on Allah.”

Imagine if a white, male, American guest of the Hotel Pennsylvania were charged with multiple counts of indecent exposure and sexual harassment? He wouldn’t have been given the chance to crash any planes — not from a jail cell.

Most of the American media stories — especially in New York — I have read on the NTSB report concluded, or at least strongly suggested, that El-Batouty had deliberately crashed the plane. A notable exception was the August 12 Minneapolis Star-Tribune story that I picked up from the radical multiculturalist, Long Island newspaper, Newsday. (Newsday, like many other radical multiculturalist media outlets, tends to be both pro-Arab and anti-Semitic. Curiously, in this regard, radical multiculturalists are in full agreement with Pat Buchanan and his followers.)

The Star-Tribune/Newsday story, which could have been written by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, emphasized the (alleged) rarity of suicide in Egyptian culture; omitted James Hall’s statement that the crash was not due to mechanical failure; failed to mention that NTSB investigators had concluded that El-Batouty had committed one of the biggest individual acts of mass murder in history; emphasized throughout the article the anger of El-Batouty’s family, the Egyptian media and government, and EgyptAir officials; and the insistence by EgyptAir officials, that the crash was caused by mechanical failure. But the biggest omission of all, was the reduction of the times El-Batouty said the Muslim prayer, “I rely on Allah,” from eleven times to once. That reduction makes the prayer sound much more innocuous.

If El-Batouty’s chanting of the prayer was innocent, why misrepresent it?

The Star-Tribune/Newsday story reminds me of the saying, that “a half-truth is a whole lie.”

The response of professional Arabs and their supporters to the case of Gameel El-Batouty has aped that of O.J. Simpson’s supporters, and suggests in its crudity, aggression, and stupidity that El-Batouty’s supporters are convinced that he murdered 216 people, while committing suicide.

I wholly expect to soon hear, “El-Batouty was framed!” Anyone want to guess who will be blamed for the “frame-up”?


Anonymous said...

It is really depressing after reading the complete investigation report.How such a renowned organisation like NTSB,fell in for the sucide conspiracy,and ignored remaining factors pointed by Egypt air.Probably they are noless equals to the Airbus ad airfrance scandal in the first A320 crash,to coverup their industry ie (BOEING)"POOR SHOW NTSB"

Anonymous said...

Apparently since Anonymous' comment is not in sensible English he is likely an Egyptian. Interesting how this El-Batouty suicide murderer exhibits the same out-of-control non-muslim behavior weeks before the scum that did 9-11. A year before 2001...