Monday, June 22, 2009
SARASOTA – Since surviving Somalia’s “Black Hawk Down” carnage in 1993, decorated Army veteran and University of Florida journalism school grad Keni Thomas has had one of those marquee careers that raises logical questions about destiny and fate. As part of The Patterson Foundation’s Legacy of Valor campaign to honor veterans, the Junior League of Sarasota and the Junior League of Manatee County are hosting Thomas at an 11 a.m. luncheon at Dolphin Aviation in Sarasota. Patterson’s Legacy project hopes to draw attention to veterans issues and Sarasota National Cemetery, where construction work on Patriot Plaza will turn the memorial into a national showcase. On Oct. 3, 1993, Thomas was with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment coordinating with Delta Force operatives to capture Somali militia bosses gathering in the nation’s capital. The targets had been attacking United Nations peacekeepers and sabotaging humanitarian relief efforts.
* October 1993 — Eighteen U.S. servicemen, all of them part of a humanitarian mission to Somalia, are killed in an ambush in Mogadishu. Bin Laden later says that some Arab Afghans were involved in the killings and calls Americans “paper tigers” because they withdrew from Somalia shortly after the soldiers’ deaths
* February 1998 — Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri endorse a fatwa under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders.” This fatwa, published in the newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, on February 23, 1998, states that Muslims should kill Americans — including civilians — anywhere in the world.
* May 7, 1998 — Bin Laden associate Mohammed Atef sends Khaled al Fawwaz a letter discussing the endorsement by bin Laden of a fatwa issued by the “Ulema Union of Afghanistan” which termed the U.S. army the “enemies of Islam” and declared jihad against the United States and its followers. The fatwa is subsequently published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
* May 29, 1998 — Bin Laden issues a statement titled “The Nuclear Bomb of Islam,” under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Fighting the Jews and Crusaders.” In it, he states that “it is the duty of Muslims to prepare as much force as possible to terrorize the enemies of God.”
* August 7, 1998 — A pair of truck bombs explodes outside the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Some 224 people are killed.
* November 1998 — Bin Laden is indicted in the United States on 224 counts of murder — one for each death in the Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings.
* June 7, 1999– Bin Laden appears for the first time on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives list.
* May 2000 — Muslim separatist guerrillas who seized 21 hostages at a diving resort in Malaysia publicly announce that they are being supported by bin Laden.
* October 12, 2000 — Bin Laden is linked to the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which left 17 U.S. sailors dead and another 39 injured.
* 2000 — Algerian Ahmed Ressam pleads guilty in connection with a failed plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. He claims he was trained in urban warfare and explosives at a camp in Afghanistan run by bin Laden.
* May 29, 2001– Four of bin Laden’s alleged supporters are convicted of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa.
* August 14, 2001 — Bin Laden’s last statement prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is given to Al Rai Al Aam newspaper.
* September 2001 — Four U.S. commercial aircraft are commandered in flight by 19 hijackers. Two are flown into the World Trade Center in New York, another into the Pentagon just outside Washington, and the fourth, headed to an unknown target, crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people are killed. Soon thereafter, the U.S. government names bin Laden as a prime suspect.