Although Lynne was not present at the meeting between Sheik Rahman, Yousry and Ramzi Clark on September 20, 1999 if she were there she would have gotten the word out that Rahman was cancelling the cease fire in Egypt between the Islamist Group and the Government. On September 20, 1999 Ahmed Abdel Sattar, Lynne Stewart's co-defendant and co-conspirator, told CC-3 telephonically that the cease-fire between the Islamic Group and Egypt should be canceled. Enthused by the success of its what it calls anti-terrorist measures, the Egyptian government had ignored calls for a truce and it was time for Mubarak to pay the price.[1] In October 1999 Islamic Group sleeper agent Gamil El-Batouty (also spelled Batouti) was activated. Prior to his employment at EgyptAir, First Relief Officer Gamil El-Batouty was employed as a flight instructor, first for the Egyptian Air Force and later for a Government-operated civilian flight-training institute in Egypt. El-Batouty became a Major in the Air Force before he transitioned to the flight-training institute, where he eventually became the chief flight instructor. In the Egyptian military El-Batouty became a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, as so many religious Egyptians are. From the Muslim Brotherhood, it is only a stone’s throw away to the Islamic Jihad Group.

On October 31, 1999, at about 1:50 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, Egypt Air flight 990, a scheduled international flight from New York to Cairo, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. First Relief Officer Gamil El-Batouty deliberately destroyed that plane on orders from Rifa’i Taha Musa, who had been ordered to resume the fight against the Egyptian government by Rahman and other imprisoned leaders of Al-Gama’a and Al-Jihad.[1] The exiled militant leaders endorsed this call.[2]

About 20 minutes after takeoff, as the airplane was climbing to its assigned altitude, Gamil El-Batouty suggested that he relieve the command first officer, Ahmed al-Habashi, at the controls, stating, “I’m not going to sleep at all. I might come and sit for two hours, and then…” indicating that he wanted to fly his portion of the trip at that time. Al-Habashi was surprised at this request and exclaimed, “But I slept.” A few minutes later al-Habashi said, “Excuse me, Gamil while I take a quick trip to the toilet before it gets crowded while they are eating, and I’ll be back to you.” About eleven seconds after the captain left the cockpit the Cockpit Voice Recorder recorded an unintelligible comment. Ten seconds later El-Batouty stated quietly, “I rely on God.” A few seconds later the autopilot was disengaged and El-Batouty repeated, “I rely on God” and the Flight Data Recorder recorded an abrupt nose-down elevator movement and a very slight movement of the inboard ailerons. Subsequently, the airplane began to rapidly pitch nose down and descend in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean. The Cockpit Voice Recorder revealed extreme heroism on the part of El-Batouty, and a deep faith in Allah.

This Islamist was following orders that Lynne Stewart
smuggled out of prison for Sheik Rahman

01.48:48: El-Batouty: I rely on God.

01.48:52: [Thrust Throttle Lever Retarded to Idle]

01.48:53: [Aircraft Begins a 40-Degree Angle Dive Towards the Ocean]

01.49:08: [Tones of Aural Master Caution]

01.49:21: [Right Engine Start Lever Manually Switched from “Run” to “Cutoff”]

01:49:22: [Left Engine Start Lever Manually Switched from “Run” to “Cutoff” and Elevators Split in Opposite Direction] [3]

0149:30.16: [sound of two faint thumps and one louder thump]

0149:48.42: I rely on God.

0149:57.33: I rely on God.

0149:58.75: I rely on God.

0150:00.15: I rely on God.

0150:01.60: I rely on God.

0150:02.93: I rely on God.

0150:04.42: I rely on God.

0150:05.89: I rely on God.

0150:06.37: What’s happening? What’s happening? [Flight captain returning to cockpit]

0150:07.07: I rely on God.

0150:08.53: What's happening?

0150:15.15: what's happening, Gamil? What's happening?

0150:19.51: [four tones similar to Master Caution aural beeper]

0150:24.92: What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engine(s)?

0150:25.00: [change and increase in sound, heard only through first officer's hot microphone system]

0150:26.55: Get away in the engines. [Translated as said]

0150:28.85: Shut the engines.

0150:29.66: It's shut.

0150:31.25: Pull.

0150:32.75: Pull with me.

0150:34.78: Pull with me.

0150:36.84: Pull with me.

[End of Cockpit Voice Recorder]


The meaning of the words “Tawakkalt Ala Allah” had to be explained. The United States Government reported: “This phrase was originally interpreted to mean “I place my fate in the hands of God.” Other translations included, “I entrust myself to God,” “I put my fate in your hands,” “I made my decision now. I put my fate in God’s hands.” The interpretation of this Arabic statement was later amended to “I rely on God” by the Egyptians. According to an EgyptAir and Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority presentation to the NTSB staff on April 28, 2000, this phrase “is very often used by the Egyptian layman in day to day activities to ask God’s assistance for the task at hand. It is used only when someone embarks on a good action and not a bad one.” From our perspective, El-Batouty’s action was a good one.

The Feds should have realized that the expression “I rely on God” or “I depend on God” had been heard before, on tapes made by Emad Salem, as he videotaped in the Holland Tunnel:

Siddig Ali: Because he is going home, he lives here. He will place it [the bomb] here and [it] depends on God. And he will see somebody waiting for him (UI) he will come out here as we are going now and they depend on God, that’s it, he leaves, he knows the way, let him go back quietly like this (UI). He goes out from here, straight to Canal Street east, then he depends on God with who brought him, they mention the name of God, the Almighty in every moment, during after and before the haddouta (UI) sing, pray, one bow for God the Almighty, to thank God for his blessing, then leave with a secured heart and mentally relaxed, proud of the job he has done, and ask God to consider it a good deed.

Salem: Sheik, it is a film.

Siddig Ali: You are making a film, you Yahood, do you have films in Israel, there, damn. You in Israel will get hit. Israel is called Palestine. God is great, Islamic, Islamic state. Conquered by our master Omar Bin-Al Khattab, may God bless his soul, the crusaders took it and Salah Al-Din took it back, then the Jewish dogs took, the grandsons of monkeys and pigs, and we will take it back God-willing. By God Yahood, this film will get us in severe trouble. It will be burnt. It will be erased by itself. The film is called Mission Impossible.

[Noise of siren]

Salem: Police, police oh my God, shall I sing for you a little bit (laughing) no please. In the name of God, the merciful, God, no God but God, he is the living God, (UI) prayers. Who are the enemies of God? Yeah, Jews, Christians and anybody other than Muslims? This is of course an enemy of God, right?

Siddig Ali: Because there are non-Muslims and they are ignorants, nobody delivered the message to them, they could be enemies of God after and did not follow our God means he left out God and followed the devil means the holy Qu’ran explains it, whoever was an enemy of God and Jibril is our enemy (UI) he won’t bring blessing, they use to like Michael, God, out master Jibril is called the faithful, ha, the holy spirit, the faithful spirit…”[4]

When the Egyptian spy Haggag was asked, “What else did you say to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman?” he answered, “He told me, ‘Depend on God. Carry out this operation. It does not require a fatwa.’”

The Egyptian Government refused to admit that this action marked the end of the cease-fire yet there were few possible alternatives. The first was that El-Batouty had committed suicide. Captain El-Batouty had no previous psychiatric treatment and there was no family history of mental illness, nor any suicidal attempts. The only family problem he had was that of an ill daughter, who was receiving treatment at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He did not talk about suicide to any family member and did not leave any hint or written paper concerning this. El-Batouty had an affectionate personality with no psychopathic trends. He was married and had five children and three grandchildren. His sons were university students and two of them were about to be graduated. One of them was already working. He was making preparations for the marriage of another son in two months time. The family was stable and greatly respected the deceased father. El-Batouty, a devout Muslim, would not have asked for Gods help eleven times to carry out a deed that went against the laws of Allah, such as suicide. According to El-Batouty’s close friend, Marwan al-Shebbi, South-Tower pilot, his death was not suicide. Before his own death, Al-Shebbi stated that his “good friend” did not commit suicide, but, rather, died “on a mission of God [Allah].” Brother Marwan al-Shehhi told his barber in Falls Church, Virginia, that El-Batouty’s actions were “carried out in the name of God.”[5] The NTSB concluded, “The reason for El-Batouty’s actions was not determined.” Hamdi Hanafi Taha, an Islamic Fundamentalist who had filed suit against Egypt Air for serving alcohol and distributing food on airlines during Ramadan defected to England, sought asylum, and claimed that he had information on the crash of Flight 990. Although Taha came up with a cock and bull story about El-Batouty having told him that he wanted revenge against EgyptAir for a demotion it was significant that El-Batouty was traveling in Fundamentalist circles and that Rahman's Cairo lawyer, Muntasser el-Zayyat, said he knew Taha.

The second alternative was that the plane crashed as a result of mechanical failure. This was the one settled upon by the Egyptian Government, but before it did so the government controlled Egyptian State Information Service carried this explanation on its website: “We, however, have pieced together the picture from a variety of sources. In light of available information, it seems likely that the U.S. Navy downed EgyptAir Flight 990. The Boeing 767 jet was targeted and hit twice by a special beam, followed by a missile, which blew the tail off the jet.”[6]

The government of Egypt had to explain away the tape from the cockpit voice recorder and in its report it was stated: “There was no evidence of fight or struggle among the crew members during the dive, on the contrary, the evidence indicated a crew cooperating to recover airplane control. Analysis results also support the conclusion that there were more than two persons in the cockpit, especially at the start of the dive where there were repetitive general inquiry phrases at the time the engines were shut down. The captain returned to the cockpit almost immediately after the dive started, at an altitude of approximately 31,000 feet. There is no indication on the Cockpit Voice Recorder of a struggle or disagreement between the El-Batouty, the Captain or anyone else. There was also no effort to incapacitate El-Batouty or to restrain him. The cockpit conversations showed an effort at teamwork rather than a crew working at cross-purposes.”

The NTSB disagreed. When the Captain first re-entered the cockpit he exclaimed, “What’s happening?” as he had no idea that El-Batouty was on a suicide mission. He thought that El-Batouty would help him to get the aircraft off its dive. This was why is appeared that the men were co-operating to save the aircraft. The NTSB pointed to the Flight Voice Recorder that had only recorded the conversation of two men in the cockpit to refute the Egyptians contention that there were additional men in the cockpit at the time of the crash. The NTSB contended that although there was no sign of disagreement between the two men El-Batouty only responded to the pilot’s remarks only once. The surprised reaction from the captain when the engines did not respond to the throttle movement (What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engines?) suggested that the captain was unaware that the engine start lever switches had been moved to the cutoff position, that such an action was at odds with his intentions, and that it was, therefore, not part of a mutual, cooperative troubleshooting exercise between the captain and El-Batouty. The NTSB pointed out that the sentence, “Get away in the engines,” was another example of a phrase where there was a direct translation of the Arabic words into English with no attempt to interpret or analyze the words that resulted in an awkward or seemingly inappropriate phrase: “In this case, it is possible that the captain, surprised to realize that the engines had been shut off, was trying to tell El-Batouty to leave the engines alone. Poor word choice, improper grammar, and the use of incomplete phrases can be symptomatic of high levels of psychological stress in a speaker.”[7]

Egypt’s Defense Ministry confirmed that 33 military officers were aboard the EgyptAir flight that plunged into the Atlantic killing all 217 people aboard. The Joint Committee of on Intelligence of the U.S. Congress indirectly linked this action to us: “We believe that outside events also shaped al-Qaeda leaders' thinking about an airliner attack. [Deleted] the October 1999 crash of Egypt Air Flight 990, attributed in the media to a suicidal pilot, may have encouraged al-Qaeda’s growing impression that air travel was a vulnerability for the United States.”

On November 14, 1999, during a telephone conversation with someone who shall go nameless, Sattar stated the “cease-fire” had still not worked because it had not succeeded in obtaining the release of Islamic Group leaders from prison and more action was necessary. In February 2000, with the help of Sattar and Yousry “and others known and unknown” Musa attempted to have a message conveyed to Sheik Rahman, but the message was not delivered due to security concerns. No mention of the downing of the flight was ever made, also due to security considerations.

[1] . “Bloodbath at Luxor” The Economist, November 22, 1997, p. 53. In November 1997, over 10,000 suspects were estimated to be under arrest and detention.

[2] . Reuters report in The Asian Age, October 14, 1997.

[3] . These surface controls, located on the tail of the airplane, command the up or down movement of the aircraft’s nose. They normally move simultaneously in the same direction. Experts argued this could have indicated a struggle for control of the aircraft, with the flight captain pulling the control column up and the first officer pushing the column forward. EgyptAir officials have said the split could have been caused by the shock wave caused by the speed the aircraft was diving at, which was close to Mach 1.

[4] . Exhibit USA v. Rahman CM-62 June 23, 1993.

[5] . William Scott Malone - Unrecorded telephone Interview - October 17, 2003.

[6] . The Egyptian State Information Service October 31, 2000 “Missing pieces of the puzzle,” Courtesy: The Egyptian Gazette

[7] . National Transportation Safety Board News and Events March 21, 2002 Report on EgyptAir Flight 990 National Transportation Safety Board Washington, D.C. 20594 Aircraft Accident Brief Accident Number: DCA00MA006 Operator/Flight Number: EgyptAir flight 990 Aircraft and Registration: Boeing 767-366ER, SU-GAP Location: 60 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts Date: October 31, 1999. Adopted On: March 13, 2002

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