The “Big Wedding” and Its Sinister Offspring

Book Review:

The Big Wedding: 9-11, The Whistle Blowers and the Cover-Up
by Sander Hicks
VoxPop, New York, 2005

by A. Kronstadt, The Shadow

In the months after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, American society experienced an eclipse of reason, during which George W. Bush was given a blank check to transform government in his own image. Abominations like the USA PATRIOT Act went through Congress with no more than a whimper of meek opposition. It would have been considered positively unpatriotic to question whether putting the entire emergency management system under the hegemony of the Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy was really a good idea. It was not until the governmental fiasco in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that this question was finally answered. Only now are people beginning to realize that in the days, indeed in the hours after the World Trade Center was destroyed, certain completely unproven notions were imprinted upon our minds. (I use the word “imprinted” in the same sense that scientists use it in describing how experiences of baby animals determine their behavior for life.) For a little while there, the horror of September 11 and the deliberately manipulated imagery reduced the American populace to the status of infants—unable to comprehend, picking up the concepts, the language itself, from the grownups, those in power.

One hope for getting Americans out of their post 9-11 trance is that a large number of independently-produced and published documentaries and books are being generated by dedicated and patriotic researchers and investigators that reveal more truth behind the events of September 11, 2001. One such book is The Big Wedding: 9-11, The Whistle Blowers, and The Cover-Up, authored by Brooklyn-based investigative journalist Sander Hicks. The title of this engrossing work is based on a code-word alleged to have been used by some of the 9-11 terrorists referring to the attack, but which could also be interpreted as referring to the conjugal bliss that the U.S. government has enjoyed with Islamic fundamentalism.

In The Big Wedding, Hicks develops a thesis, based on interviews with ex-intelligence operatives, many of whom were involved in, or in close proximity to “black ops,” i.e., covert criminal operations carried out by government agents. Hicks’ informants in The Big Wedding are a rogue’s gallery that includes a diamond smuggler, pedophile, and Egyptian double agent. These unsavory characters provide Hicks with information that he weaves into a story where there are no boundaries between the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI), US intelligence, and Islamic fundamentalists, perhaps including those involved with the 9-11 attacks. Hicks bases many of his contentions on information that is common knowledge.

The marriage between these forces was brokered by members of the Reagan administration to counter the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s. Pakistan had always been a good Cold War ally of the US and our enemies, the Soviets, were close to Pakistan’s arch-enemy India. Pakistani intelligence helped create and later served as a partner to the ultra-orthodox Islamic fundamentalist Taliban militia, at the behest of the US. The Afghan Mujahideen rebels, precursors to the Taliban, fought against a succession of secular, pro-Soviet regimes in Afghanistan, and were joined by foreign forces, including Osama bin-Laden and other Saudis. [Years of infighting after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 led to the Taliban taking power in 1996—Ed.]

Financial backing for the Mujahideen was funneled in through front companies of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a Pakistan-based institution originally touted as a source of capital for poorer nations, but which evolved into a kind of state-within-a-state in Pakistan, heavily overlapping with high-ranking personnel with the ISI. BCCI was mentioned as a link between the Bush and bin Laden families in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9-11, which showed that Bush crony James Bath acted as an intermediary for money transfers between Saudi moguls, including [Osama’s late half-brother] Salem bin-Laden, and some Bush enterprises, via BCCI majority shareholder Sheik Khalid bin Mafouz. But Hicks points out that BCCI was also an instrument used by US and Pakistani intelligence agents to hook up deals with arms merchants and supply the Afghan Mujahideen with weapons to fight the Soviets.

Although BCCI collapsed in the early 1990s, the basic infrastructure of money laundering and arms dealing created by the US and Pakistan to aid the Islamic fundamentalist cause in Afghanistan has continued to exist, and Hicks contends that it was this infrastructure that financed the 9-11 attacks. As evidence for this, Hicks points to a key event on Oct. 9, 2001, that the US media failed to mention, but reported by the Times of India and Agence Presse France, whereby a middleman, acting on behalf of Pakistani intelligence chief General Mahmood Ahmad, wired $100,000 to purported 9-11 terrorist ringleader Mohammed Atta the day before the September 11 attacks. Ahmad was dismissed from his post as the head of the ISI in October 2001, due to his alleged ties to the Taliban and Pakistani Islamist groups.

Ahmad’s dismissal came at a time when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had publicly renounced his government’s past links to the Taliban and pledged Pakistan’s support for Bush’s War on Terrorism. One could speculate whether or not the Times of India report on the ISI chief’s role in 9-11 was a piece of Indian propaganda, but the links between US intelligence, the ISI, and Islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan are incontrovertible common knowledge.

The Big Wedding includes an interview with sleazy diamond merchant turned FBI informant Randy Glass, who says that, in June of 1999, he participated in a sting operation that involved meeting Pakistani arms dealer R.G. Abbas at the Tribeca Grill, a pricey New York restaurant owned by actor Robert De Niro, a few blocks from the World Trade Center. According to Glass, also at this meeting was Diaa Mohsen, an Egyptian arms dealer who had introduced Glass to a number of key terror figures who Mohsen knew on a business level. Subjects discussed at the Tribeca meeting included sales of anti-aircraft missiles and heavy water which Pakistani nuclear weapons researchers wanted in order to manufacture plutonium. However, at a certain point in the conversation, Glass says, Abbas pointed to the Twin Towers and told him: “Those towers are coming down.” Glass states that he tried desperately to inform his FBI handlers and later, Senator Bob Graham, about the plot he had gotten wind of, but the information was ignored, if not actively suppressed. The sting operation, called Operation Diamondback, concluded in June 2001, with Mohsen and a few others convicted on several counts of money laundering and violation of arms export laws. Mohsen was sentenced to only 30 months, though he violated Federal anti-terrorism laws and should have received a much stiffer penalty.

Another figure in The Big Wedding is Delmart Vreeland, who had worked as a spy for the Office of Naval Intelligence and, while in jail in Canada in the summer of 2001, prepared a series of notes describing potential terrorist targets of which he had knowledge, demanding to have them passed on to U.S. and Canadian authorities. Vreeland claims to have run across a document passing through Russian intelligence circles, stating that there would be an attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001. Hicks includes evidence to vouch for Vreeland’s intelligence credentials, but unfortunately, Vreeland comes across as being crazy. Hicks does not deny that many of his informants are so, and indeed out-and-out criminals—but these are the most suitable types for the “black ops,” in which they were able to pick up information on the most nefarious acts of the United States government. Hicks told The Shadow: “Intelligence agents can out-criminalize criminals. There are no archbishops in espionage. You don’t have to like these people, you just have to find corroboration.”

One of Hicks’ intellectual precursors in contending that double agents working for the both United States government and Islamic fundamentalist forces were at the bottom of the September 11 attacks is Daniel Hopsicker, author of Welcome to Terrorland: Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 Coverup in Florida. In The Big Wedding, Hicks focuses closely on Hopsicker’s research regarding Huffman Aviation and its training school in Venice, Florida. Three of the four supposed 9-11 pilots learned to fly at Venice Municipal Airport, where Huffman is based, and a fourth trained at the neighboring Florida Flight Training Center. In Welcome to Terrorland, Hopsicker outlined the role of Huffman’s owner Wally Hilliard in making the aviation company’s Venice airfields available as resources for government-sponsored drug dealing, which allowed the Mujahedeen to remain self-sufficient.

Hopsicker paints a picture of Mohammed Atta when he was at Huffman in Venice and in the nearby Florida Keys, that is a little different from the devoted true believer who appears in the 9-11 Commission report. Atta comes across as a cynical carouser who loved alcohol and parties, and seems to fit the profile shared by a number of Egyptian double agents that have simultaneously served the interests of Western intelligence and Islamic fundamentalism. Hicks compares Hopsicker’s Atta with Emad Salem, the Egyptian double agent who acted as a government informant and instigator in connection with the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

In The Big Wedding, Hicks lambastes the 9-11 Commission, which he describes as a group of ten Washington insiders, and its report, which he accuses of ignoring anomalies, such as the fact that the 9-11 attacks took place on a day when there were three large-scale air-defense drills in progress, immobilizing any Air Force resources that might have responded effectively to the incidents. The indisputable fact that this “stand-down” was in progress on 9-11 has become a key piece of evidence for 9-11 skeptics, whether they be of the “they let it happen” or the “they made it happen” school of thought.

In addition to his journalism, Sander Hicks is among the pioneers of a nascent 9-11 Truth Movement. Although this effort unites independent thinkers of the left, right, and center, its members share a common distrust of the official conspiracy theory, whereby “the enemy” attacked America just because they hate our freedom. Another pioneer of this movement is Nicholas Levis, a coordinator of the 2006 Summer of Truth campaign in New York. Levis and Hicks, as well as the many thousands of Americans who have become inquisitive about the real sequence of events that led to the events of September 11, share a common distrust of the motives of the US government, not just about its competence.

Levis told The Shadow: “I have come to the conclusion that this was an orchestrated event, that there was facilitation within the US government; even though they may have used found elements, namely the Islamic fundamentalists, I don’t buy incompetence when it is this persistent. Bush, Rumsfeld, [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Richard] Myers and General [Montague] Winfield [of the National Military Command Center] all found reasons not to be active on this day. Then there was [Strategic Command chief] Admiral [Richard] Mies, who was running the overall set of air defense war games under the umbrella of Global Guardian. Some of these exercises, like Vigilant Guardian and Vigilant Warrior, appear to have used the scenario of multiple domestic hijackings and crash bombings, and this on the day when it actually happened. The evidence indicates that all of this was deliberately intended to confuse a response. The inaction by the head men in the military chain of command indicates intent.” Levis added: “When the old Iran Contra crew is back in power after a stolen election, what do you expect? They committed all of these kinds of crimes already in the ’80s, but they needed an enabling event before Americans would support multiple invasions and the transformations we’ve seen since September 11.”

On the subject of motive, Sander Hicks told The Shadow: “If you want to know why, look at the statements published by the Project for the New American Century in 2000.” PNAC is the neoconservative Washington think tank founded in 1997 by William Kristol, which includes as members Richard Armitage, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. In 2000, PNAC issued a position paper titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” which includes the following ominous line, referring to the difficulty of implementing their right-wing agenda: “…the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.” The 9-11 Truth Movement people are quick to interpret the PNAC document’s oddly tacked-on phrase “a new Pearl Harbor” as a prefiguration of 9-11.

Two things are certain. First, that the “new Pearl Harbor” did indeed happen on September 11, 2001. Second, that Bush used the horrific events of that day to justify and blunt the opposition to the subsequent US invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. More and more people in America are coming to the conclusion that this cannot be a coincidence. The 9-11 Truth Movement, whose foundations are being laid by people like Hicks, Levis, and others (including investigators at The Shadow), is united by incontrovertible evidence that some in government had the intention and ability to arrange an incident that would turn the public’s head just long enough to let them achieve their stated and published goals. Those of us who have seen the first threads of the “big lie” come loose have a responsibility to unravel the remainder of this fabric of deceit and to convince people to take political action.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sander Hicks is now running for governor of New York: As he explained to the SHADOW: “I’m running for governor because most New York State folks are progressive, and neither party represents that. Most New Yorkers are pro-peace and anti-death penalty, but [NYS Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Elliot] Spitzer was rabidly pro-Iraq invasion, and he’s pro-death penalty. He ignored a 2004 poll that showed 66% of the state wanted him to investigate all the anomalies around 9-11. Not listening to a majority is grounds for immediate termination of his public office. Spitzer has got to go.”


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2006 edition of The Shadow


9-11 Truth

Let’s Roll 9-11

Total 9-11 Info

Summer of Truth

Sander Hicks website

“India Accuses Ex Pakistan Spy Chief Of Links to US Attacker: Report,”
AFP, Oct. 12, 2001, online at Bill St. Clair’s 9-11 Timeline

“Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,”
Project for the New American Century, 2000

Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Sept. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution