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    33 Years ago Rabbi Meir Kahane’s murder was the first blood spilled by al Qaeda on U.S. soil. Read the origin story and consider how intelligence failures lead to serial terrorism and perpetual wars.

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    By Peter Lance, Nov, 5th, 2023. Terrorism – manifested from many quarters – perpetuates the circle of hate. The U.S. interventions in Iraq & Afghanistan proved that intel failures lead to decades-long wars with exponentially higher casualties on all sides. Is history now repeating itself?

    Given the current conflagration in Gaza, I’m revisiting an investigation I did in 2010 into the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, a Brooklyn born Orthodox rabbi and co-founder of The Jewish Defense League, who once called for the removal of all Palestinians from Israel and was later boycotted in The Knesset.

    On November 5th, 1990, Egyptian El-Sayyid Nosair, later convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, entered the Morgan D Ballroom at The Marriot Hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Posing as a Sephardic Jew, he approached Kahane shortly after he finished a lecture and shot him at point blank range.

    Nosair fled the hotel and was wounded in a gun battle with an off duty U.S. Postal Inspector who saw him wielding the murder weapon. The rabbi and Nosair were rushed in separate ambulances to Bellevue Hospital. Kahane died and Nosair lived, later to be convicted in the slaying.

    I recounted that killing in 1000 Years For Revenge: International Terrorism And The FBI: The Untold Story, my first of four books for HarperCollins published in 2002. This is a link to a 32 page illustrated TIMELINE from the book, which documents multiple acts of FBI negligence on the road to 9/11. The Kahane murder is cited on page 3.

    When I revisited the assassination in 2010 I identified Jordanian terrorist Bilal Alkaisi as the second gunman in the plot. AlKaisi was later indicted in the WTC bombing, but freed by New York federal prosecutors who struck a plea bargain with him. Soon after that, he escaped the U.S.

    As a measure of how the FBI’s New York Office utterly failed to connect the dots leading up to Kahane’s killing and beyond, at left is one of dozens of photographs taken by the FBI’s Special Operations Group (SOG) over multiple weekends in July of 1989 at a shooting range on Long Island. Among the terrorists under surveillance was El Sayyid Nosair who was documented firing the same silver plated. 357 magnum he used to shoot Rabbi Kahane 16 months later.

    As I pursued that story, I learned of a previously unknown plan to kill future Israeli PM Ariel Sharon – revelations The Jerusalem Post put on Page One.

    My findings, published in  also linked Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to the slaying. The detailed confessions in which Nosair named Alkaisi, who worked at the al Farooq Mosque on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, are contained in a series of FBI 302 memos which I obtained.

    In addition to supplying details of the Kahane slaying, never previously made public, the 302’s also recount an admission by Nosair that his original target, prior to gunning down Kahane, was Sharon.

    In this piece for Alternet on the 20th anniversary of the ‘93 Trade Center bombing I also named Alkaisi as the lead shooter in the grisly 1991 homicide of bin Laden associate Mustafa Shalabi, the Egyptian imam who ran The Alkifah Center at the Brooklyn Mosque. For years, Shalabi had raised a fortune in cash for the Mujahideen, fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    After the Russians left in 1989 Osama bin Laden and Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, aka “The Blind Sheikh;” spiritual leader of what soon became known as al Qaeda, coveted that money which continued to pour into the Mosque. But Shalabi refused to share it with them. After Sheikh Omar began denouncing him at multiple mosques in New York and New Jersey, Shalabi prepared to flee to Cairo. But on the eve of his departure a three man team, sent by Abdel-Rahman murdered him in a hyper-violent shooting/stabbing that remained unsolved for nearly 20 years.

    Additional files I obtained provide gruesome details of Shalabi’s slaying committed, two years to the day before the Twin Towers bombing. It was one of the bloodiest homicide’s in recent New York memory.

    According to the confessions, in those FBI 302’s, Bilal Alkasi was the lead killer. His accomplices were Mohammed Salameh and Nidal Ayyad, a Kuwaiti émigré, The latter two were later convicted in the WTC bombing that killed six and injured 1000 on February 26th, 1993.

    The discovery of those 302’s, withheld from The NYPD by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), was first reported in an article I wrote, published in the September, 2010 issue of PLAYBOY magazine.

    My piece chronicles the untold story of former Egyptian Army officer Emad Salem, who became a U.S. naturalized citizen and infiltrated the WTC bombing cell in 1992 at the request of the FBI. He got so close, that he became the Blind Sheikh’s “bodyguard,” only to be forced out by a senior Bureau administrator prior to the bombing. See photo below:

    The PLAYBOY article quotes Salem in a 1993 taped conversation with his FBI handler noting that if the Feds had allowed Salem’s undercover role to continue, they could have prevented the Trade Center blast. The agent (John Anticev) is then recorded saying, “Absolutely. But don’t repeat that.”

    Following the bombing, Salem went back undercover and discovered a plot by additional cell members to plant similar explosive devices at The George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, The United Nations and 26 Federal Plaza, home of the FBI’s New York Office.

    His undercover work resulted in the arrest of Sheikh Omar and 11 others in what the Feds dubbed “The Day of Terror” plot. Ultimately Salem was on the stand for more than 30 days, withstanding withering cross-examination, before Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald won a conviction.

    Moments later in open court, Abdel-Rahman effectively sentenced Salem to death with a verbal fatwa to his followers. The heroic FBI operative was then taken into WITSEC (The Witness Protection Program) with his wife and two children where they were forced to change multiple jurisdictions over the next. 14 years.

    When Salem emerged, he reached out to me and provided previously unknown details about Shalabi’s murder that led to the clearance of the case with the help of veteran NYPD Detective James, Moss, from Brooklyn South Homicide. Over the years, we became friends and Emad continually reminded me that failed espionage inevitably leads to failed wars. A lesson we should all consider at this moment for the sake of the people of Israel and Gaza.




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