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Sunday, September 7, 2014

9-11, Flight 77 and the Murder of a US Attorney

Thomas C. Wales home, back view
On the night of October 11, 2001, at approximately 10:40 p.m., Thomas Crane Wales was killed in his home in Seattle, Washington by a gunman armed with what forensics experts determined was a Russian Makarov pistol.  The shooter stood in the backyard of Wales' home and shot him several times through a basement window as he sat at his desk typing on his computer. A lone male suspect was seen fleeing the scene. Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske called it an assassination. 

Wales worked for the Western District of Washington as an Assistant United States Attorney for over 18 years, prosecuting white collar crime cases.  In his younger days, he had roomed at a prep school with Joseph Kennedy II, son of RFK.  Later he became a staunch gun control advocate.

Police sketch
Suspicion hovered over defendants in cases that Wales had prosecuted.  Wales' friends from the gun control movement suspected that a member of the opposition may have sent a message.  None of these leads proved fruitful. Wales' white-collar defendants were generally non-violent, almost uniformly negotiated pleas, and the cases rarely made the newspapers. Fellow prosecutors say Wales was never seriously threatened and was the least likely of them to have enemies.  Alan Gottlieb, director of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Washington often lunched with Wales while consulting with him about gun legislation.  According to Gottlieb and another pro-gun advocate, Wales' bad temper and inability to remain calm in a debate made him a perfect foil for the pro-gun lobby.  "I know of nobody in the gun-rights movement who would want to harm him. There was no reason," stated Gottlieb.

Archived on Pacer.Gov, the list of cases Wales prosecuted as Assistant US Attorney ran the gamut from child molestation, bank embezzlement, bank fraud, felons illegally buying firearms and IRS scofflaws.  At least some of Wales' cases that did get some publicity concerned the bogus plane parts business.  Wales worked on several of these cases, perhaps because Western Washington is Boeing country. 

Attorney Thomas C. Wales
In 1996, Alan L. Ausman, case number 2:1995-cr-00724 US District Court, Western District of Washington, was sentenced [1] to four years in prison for selling thousands of counterfeit Boeing replacement parts over 10 years. Some were what the FAA classifies as "safety category one" parts whose failure could cause a jet to crash. In 1998, Wales prosecuted case number 2:1998-cr-00483, involving  an airplane parts manufacturer.  Another, 2:2000-cr-00482, circa 2001, covered Air Inc., whose owners altered military surplus Bell UH-1 helicopters to make them look like civilian Bell 204B model helicopters.  According to the Seattle Times [2] the defendants were accused of obtaining records for crashed or destroyed civilian helicopters, then linking the records to the surplus military helicopters they illegally altered, claiming they had repaired the aircraft.   
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Wales' final case prior to his murder was 2:2001-cr-00249, USA vs. Intrex Helicopters, which was similar to the case against Air Inc.

The bogus plane parts business is more lucrative than cocaine, according to a former Columbian drug dealer who switched to parts trafficking.   A 1996 story in the LA Times gives some details on what happened to American Airlines flight 965, which crashed in Buga, Columbia on December 20, 1995:

When an American Airlines plane smashed into a Colombian mountainside last December, outlaw salvagers didn't even wait for all 159 victims' bodies to be collected before they moved in.
Using sophisticated tools, they extracted engine thrust reversers, cockpit avionics and other valuable components from the shattered Boeing 757 and then used helicopters to fly the parts off the steep ridge, U.S. and Colombian sources say.

The parts were offered for sale in Miami, a hub of the thriving black market in recycled, stolen and counterfeit aircraft parts.

"They wanted to sell the whole lot, including the landing gear," a law enforcement source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


What was left of (supposedly) American Airlines flight 77 on the lawn of the Pentagon.  This photo was released by the FBI in 2011, ten years after 9-11. 



Same as the American Airlines Buga, Columbia crash, the plane that the FBI claims hit the Pentagon on 9-11 was an American Airlines Boeing 757-223.

There has been speculation as to whether a plane hit the Pentagon at all, according to Pilots for 9-11 Truth. According to George Nelson, Colonel, US Air Force, Retired:

American Airlines Flight 77 was reported to be a Boeing 757, registration number N644AA, carrying 64 people, including the flight crew and five hijackers...Following cool-down of the resulting fire, this crash site would have been very easy to collect enough time-change equipment within 15 minutes to positively identify the aircraft registry. There was apparently some aerospace type of equipment found at the site but no attempt was made to produce serial numbers or to identify the specific parts found. Some of the equipment removed from the building was actually hidden from public view.

Around 2005, retired attorney Jim Hanson from Columbus, Ohio did some research on the AA flight 77 crash at the Pentagon and determined that the only piece of the wreckage made public at the time was not from flight 77.  He concluded it was most likely from the crash of American Airlines flight 965 in Buga, Columbia.  This, he stated, was due to evidence that certain rivets failed to match up on the piece of wreckage as well as the presence of what Hanson determined were liana vines embedded in the fuselage.  Liana vines grow abundantly in the Buga crash site area.

The piece of fuselage in question.
Wales began prosecuting bogus airplane parts cases around 1995, about the same time Urban Moving Systems, a Mossad front connected with the 9-11 attacks, had begun its operations in the US.  Was Wales targeted because of the publicity these cases garnered as well as his proximity to Boeing?  Was the date of his murder, October 11, 2001, exactly one month after 9-11, a calling card?

A Makarov
The Makarov pistol used in the killing is known for its reliability as well as its deadly accuracy. One user states "There is NO gun I can shoot as accurate [sic] at a high speed as my MAK. I can dump eight rounds into a target as fast as I can pull the trigger and still shoot a reasonable group."  Makarovs have been used in Russia as well as some former Eastern Bloc countries as service pistols

The Makarov is not listed as a service pistol for the Israeli Defense Force; however, it is popular with the IDF.  Makarov paddle holsters are sold as Israeli Army surplus.  Israeli manufacturer Fobus sells a line of Makarov accessories on Amazon.  One listing states "Fobus holsters and pouches were designed and made especially for the Israeli security services and SWAT teams."  Other Israeli carriers of Makarov gear are IDF Holsters and Zahal.

Besides evidence of the type of gun used and a description of the shooter, in 2006 the FBI received a letter posted in Las Vegas from someone using the moniker "Gidget". "Gidget" claims to have been hired to shoot Wales by an "anonymous woman".  According to the FBI, the letter contains factual inconsistencies and unrealistic claims, in addition, it does not contain any details that have not already been released to the public.

To keep the case from going completely cold, a $1 million reward has been offered by the Department of Justice to anyone willing to step forward with information that results in a conviction.  At this point, it seems highly unlikely that anyone will collect the million.

[1] Sentence for Fake Plane Parts, Seattle Times, Sunday, June 23, 1996, p. B3
[2] Four accused of altering military copters - Seattle Times, September 29, 2000, p. B3

Related:

The official 2001 FBI docs on Urban Moving Systems and the 9-11-2001 Dancing Israelis incident

Recently released FBI photos, videos of the 9-11 Pentagon aftermath (and is that the word "missile" I hear?)