by Yoichi Clark Shimatsu
(PNS) AMSTERDAM --
Dutch Parliament is just this month holding public hearings
to determine vital facts about an October, 1992 airplane accident.
The El Al Boeing 747 crashed into an apartment building in Bijlmeer, a suburb of Amsterdam, killing 39 people on the ground and four aboard the plane. It was carrying a secret cargo that included the main chemical ingredients for the nerve gas sarin as well as depleted uranium. Dutch journalists allege it was carrying weapons-grade plutonium as well.
As many as 2,000 local residents and firemen have reported health complaints that they attribute to the crash. Many report loss of hair in the weeks after the crash, a sign of radiation disease.
at The Hague follow six years of investigation by Dutch
journalists Vincent Dekker and Pierre Heyboer with the Volkskrant newspaper.
The most important witnesses will not be present, however -- officials of
the Bush administration.
The flight stopped at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for refueling en route from New York to Tel Aviv. On October 4 last year, the sixth anniversary of the crash, Dutch transport ministry leaked to a newspaper an El Al bill of landing that shows the plane was carrying 190 liters of dimethy methylphosphonate (DMMP), four liters of isopropanol and an undisclosed amount of hydroflouric acid.
The chemicals were being sent to a super-secret weapons facility, called the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) south of Tel Aviv.
The Israeli government has claimed that the chemicals were intended for testing gas masks. But most military services use only a few grams for such purposes. The chemicals aboard the El Al jet were enough to produce 270 kilograms of sarin nerve gas -- enough to annihilate the populations of many major cities.
The sarin components came from the Solkatronics chemical plant in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, then owned by Solvay, a chemical corporation based in Brussels, Belgium. International transport of such materials is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Treaty, signed by the U.S.
The El Al jet also carried at least 800 kilograms of depleted uranium (DU), used as ballast to balance the jet's cargo. Burned DU releases uranium dust, which is known to cause lung cancer and other diseases.
Dutch authorities and El Al admit Flight LY1862 carried sarin components and DU, but refuse to provide details on six tons of military cargo. According to airport security personnel, the plane carried seven pallets of unspecified munitions.
Journalist Dekker claims, on the basis of leaks from Dutch officials, that the jet carried 27 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium, enough to make seven warheads the size of the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.
In addition, soil samples taken at the crash site have turned up evidence suggesting that nuclear weapons technology was being illegally shipped from the U.S. to Israel.
El Al jet landed and took off at Schiphol, one of the world's busiest
civilian airports, and flew across the most densely populated area of
Europe. If 27 kilograms of plutonium had bounced into the burning wreckage,
nearly all of Western Europe would have faced a nuclear emergency bigger
than the Chernobyl accident.
Dutch and Israeli authorities apparently organized a cover-up. Most documents taken from El Al officials have disappeared. Police audio tapes and 42 videotapes taken by the firefighters were shredded. Firemen claimed that they turned in the cockpit voice recorder, or "black box," but the government denies that it was ever found. Metal parts from the wreckage were recycled and melted down before a proper investigation could begin.
Residents report seeing helicopters, painted black and without markings, landing in their neighborhood. Others tell of a French-speaking team searching the area, and a group of men speaking English, some clad in white chemical protective suits, carrying a heavy box covered with a white cloth.
The Dutch authorities have denied that these events ever happened.
Journalists say Dutch security officials have told them that the Netherlands has allowed Israel to make secret military air shipments through Schiphol since the 1950s. The shipments apparently are outside the Atlantic Alliance military treaties because the aircraft going to Israel are not refueled at NATO air bases but at the commercial airport of Schiphol.
"Schiphol has become a hub for secret weapons transfers because El Al has special status there. Dutch authorities have no jurisdiction over Israeli activities at the airport," said Henk van der Belt, a member of an investigation team set up by Bijlmeer residents.
Every Sunday at sundown, an El Al cargo plane stops at Schiphol, refueling midway on the long journey between New York and Tel Aviv. All Israel-bound cargo is put inside a vacuum chamber in an underground bunker to test it for bombs equipped with altimeter triggers. But the flight does not appear on any airport video monitors -- there is not even an El Al check-in counter. Documents for air freight to Israel are handled inside an unmarked room.
A photo taken just before the 1992 accident showed that the engine of the El Al jet was off-center, indicating it was previously damaged.
Airport workers in Cologne, Germany, where the jet refueled on its way to New York, say the plane collided with an airport ground vehicle there. In other words, the cargo jet loaded with U.S.-made sarin, uranium and plutonium could have crashed in New York but it turned out to be a time-bomb flying to the heart of Europe.
February 22, 1999 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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