Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Las Vegas Terror Threat Update (Hamden seems legit, read for details)
Sierra Times ^ | 06/24/2002 | J.J. Johnson

Posted on 06/28/2002 2:15:12 AM PDT by freeasinbeer

Las Vegas Terror Threat Update - An Interview with the Man Who Heard the Call
by J.J. & Nancy Johnson
Published 06. 24. 02 at 10:14 Sierra Time

FBI News Release, June 21, 2002:

"The FBI's investigation into the allegations made by Michael Hamdan is substantially complete. The remainder is expected to be concluded in the next several days. Results of the investigation to date do not substantiate these allegations and the FBI has determined that this information is not credible."

Hamdan sits with J.J. Johnson
Sierra Times Photo

Yet Michael Hamdan, 54, is sticking to his story - that's why he spoke with The Sierra Times. It may turn out to be the most infamous phone call ever heard in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Mayor, and alleged former Mob lawyer, Oscar Goodman, June 21, 2002:

"I'd like to whack this guy - would like to put my arms around his neck. He is a liar. Let him sue me."

The Las Vegas Review Journal article on Saturday sent us on a mission. We were determined to meet Michael Hamdan for several reasons:

1. The FBI said that the story was not credible but did not provide any reasons for this conclusion - as if somehow in the last two weeks the FBI itself has acquired the credibility to pass judgment. They have missed tips before.

2. The FBI mentioned a polygraph, but never stated that Mr. Hamdan had failed it. In typical government newspeak, they implied a connection and hoped their 8th grade reading level subjects would make that assumption.

3. Mr. Hamdan claimed that the FBI did not return his phone calls. This happened to us in 1996, in the aftermath of the pipe-bombing at the Olympics.

4. Mr. Hamdan was demonized by the local media. Due to our past experience, that was a clear red flag.

In short, we've seen this movie before.

The whole story seemed eerily similar to a scene out of "Jaws" -, where Mayor Larry Vaugh made the infamous policy: "It was only a boating accident. Please go in the water."

He's not credible. Please go to the gaming hall. But this year, if Hamdan is correct, the stakes will be a bit higher this holiday. Instead of casino chips, we may be gambling with people's lives. Remember: This is Vegas, where the house always wins.

This was the man who had gotten his '15 minutes of fame', from overhearing a phone call in Arabic on the Las Vegas strip about a possible terrorist strike on July 4th. Call it luck. Call it "the Grace of God." Call it an aberration. Heck, go ahead and even call it 'not credible.' But call Michael Hamdan, and get the whole story - no matter what. It was a silent 90 minute ride from Pahrump, Nevada to the Hamdan home in Henderson.

At issue: on one side, a naturalized American who thought he was doing his duty as an American; hearing what he thought was a threat, and getting the word out in the proper way. At a time when threats were reportedly made about hotels and fuel trucks, Hamdan felt this city - his city - may be in peril. After long reflection, he chose to act - knowing that his life may never be the same again.

On the other side: Millions, possible billions of dollars in hotel rentals, entertainment tickets, cab fares, air fares, and of course those dice and cards hitting those felt covered tables. All this on the world's most famous 3-mile strip of road in the world: Las Vegas Boulevard. The holiday is expected to bring vacationers from not only across the country, but from around the world.

This is Las Vegas - where the house always wins, and where city bosses don't need reports such as 'terrorist threats' that might be 'bad for business.'


Hamdan's Neighborhood
Click Here for Full Size View
Sierra Times Photo

We arranged an interview Sunday afternoon. Evidence of his 'credibility' became evident before we even arrived at the home. Michael Hamdan lives in a gated community in Henderson, Nevada, so beautifully manicured and green that the fine Nevada dust was blissfully absent. Even his garage floor was clean. The backyard contained a pool, and sits on the border of the golf course, the jewel of this Green Valley housing complex. No sooner did we pass the gate than I asked, "What would he need this for?" The inside of his home was equally well-appointed, and while not ostentatious, would surely be the envy of the average "Special Agent."

Hamdan's artistic taste: There was a Picasso print on the wall.

Michael Hamdan is an articulate retiree who emigrated lawfully from Beirut Lebanon in 1987. He had worked for IBM in the Gulf and later for Cartier. "My fame is my family," he told us, and his proudest moment was when he stood up in the Los Angeles convention center and took his oath of United States citizenship.

He pays his taxes, has the social security number; the whole nine yards.

We sat mesmerized while he described the last week of his life. It was a week that had turned a Real American into a sleepless, anxious man disappointed and frustrated and not knowing where to turn. It began Saturday, June 15, 2002 and ended on Saturday, June 21, 2002, when the FBI and Mayor Goodman declared Michael Hamdan "not credible." And this story is still not over yet. He wasted no time telling his story - a little more than what most other media dared to report. He gave us the timeline.

June 15: Hamdan is out running errands and stops at Good Guys, a huge music warehouse on West Sahara, about 4 miles west of the strip. He buys a small TV and orders a larger one, then leaves the store and turns right, south, on Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip). Then, the familiar slow ride past world famous Casinos: The Rivera, Circus Circus, The Sahara, The Mirage, etc.. Planning to turn east on Tropicana Blvd., several miles south, Mr. Hamdan calls his wife - somewhere near "Treasure Island."

The Most Infamous Cell Phone in Las Vegas
Click Here for Full Size View
Sierra Times Photo

The cell phone is a new Seimens. It's one of those 'global types.' It'll work as well in London, Paris, Tokyo and Mecca - just as well as it does in Vegas. He has not had it long enough to program it so he hand dials his home number to call his wife. But he hears no click. Thinking he had not pressed the send button, he moves the phone away from his ear when he hear voices. The voices are speaking his native Arabic so he begins listening.

The words he hears make him freeze. It is pure Arabic, with no English and is one voice speaking to a second voice that keeps saying "Tayeb." Tayeb in Arabic means more than OK, it means acceptance or recommendation, "I got it."

"The first voice had a thick, harsh accent from the Gulf Region. It could have been from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dabu or Iraq," Hamdan said firmly.

The exact words - words that affected room holiday reservations in Las Vegas were:

"We are in the city of corruption. We are in the city of gambling and prostitution. And they are talking about freedom. We are going to hit them on their day of freedom." He repeats this twice during 60-90 seconds.

"In the background, I heard more people, and another Arabic voice could be heard yelling, 'It's enough! Stop it! It's enough!'". Hamdan implies that someone realized that his loud mouth associate was spilling the beans over a cell phone.

Mr. Hamdan was frozen in fear and began to sweat.

"The voices were not from the street," Hamdan reported, "they were highly educated... using formal words." He told us that the city of corruption was "Medinat el Fasad" in Arabic. It sounded like one guy was reporting and making a statement and the other man was taking it.

The phone goes dead. Mr. Hamdan continues to drive and arrives home. His wife asks him if he is alright, and notices that he looks pale, but he is too disturbed by the call to speak even to her. Later that evening, he finally shares with her what had happened.

The frightened couple does not know whether to call the police, FBI, or media. Hamdan is concerned for his family's safety. At two in the morning, his conscious prevails over his concern for safety "If God forbid, something happens," Hamdan said, "I could never live with myself."

June 16th: 2 a.m. Hamdan speaks with an FBI operator and asks to speak with anyone with authority about serous information. He does not provide the nature of that information, just states that it's valuable. No return call is received from the FBI. This is Sunday morning.

12:00 p.m. No sleep. Could happen when you've overheard that the city you've made your home may be a "Jihad Target." Hamdan again calls the FBI and speaks to a different operator. She says, "I do not see your name." This time, because the operator is very professional and claims to have 14 years experience with the FBI, he tells her what had happened - in detail. The operator takes his report and tells him that they would find an agent immediately to call back.

He waits.

And waits.

Nobody ever calls.

Monday, June 17: Ditto - Nobody calls, according to Hamdan.

Tuesday, June 18: Hamdan begins to call the local media, including Channel 8 (CBS) Channel 3(NBC), and Channel 13 (ABC). He believes that Channel 8 and 3, which interviewed him, called the FBI. He also calls Mayor Goodman's office. He receives a return call from a Ms. Perez - of the mayor's office.

"I understand how the wheel of justice is sometimes slow," he said. "I thought telling the media might speed things up a bit."

Oh, it did alright.

The FBI finally returns Mr. Hamdan's now three-day-old phone call. They want to go through everything. "I have nothing to hide," he tells them and agrees to come to the FBI office the following day.

Wednesday, June 19: Hamdan leaves two messages with Ms. Perez of the Mayor's Office - without a response.

Hamdan meets with two male agents in a small room at the FBI and describes the intercepted call. They ask him to produce the AT&T wireless records and he agrees. They ask him to ask Channels 3 and 8 to hold the story for 24 hours. Channel 3 airs it that night, anyway.

June 20: George Knapp of Channel 3 interviews Hamdan at 11:00 am in front of Treasure Island and airs this at 6:00 p.m. Thursday. The Sierra Times releases the story at 6:50 p.m. and it takes off from there. The Associated Press releases the story at 8:05 p.m. The networks, Fox, CNN, CBS follow suit. The media feeding frenzy is on.

The FBI calls and asks Hamdan to take a polygraph on Monday. Fifteen minutes later (perhaps after Washington read someone the riot act) they ask him to do it tomorrow, Friday.

June 21: Hamdan appears on CBS "The Early Show" and is picked up at 3 a.m. by a limo. He attempts to delay the polygraph because he is exhausted but the FBI refuses to change the appointment. "We know you've been busy," the agent sneers. He does not mention this during the interview, but he also misses the local morning radio talk show (KXNT - AM 840) for the same reason. The morning hosts made mention of this while we were driving to his home Sunday. Instead of getting any more media, Hamdan would finally get to do what he's been wanting all week - get all the facts on the table with the FBI, and get rid of those annoying cameras and microphones.

On the morning of June 21, 2002, he is met at the FBI front door by...

...a throng of media.

Who tipped them off? Who knows, but it sure wasn't Hamdan. He just wanted to get it over with.

Hamdan is only asked a series of numbers and eight verbal questions, and is not directed to lie in response to any of them. In a polygraph examination, "the machine must be calibrated," an anonymous source told us. The source, who had been subjected to FBI polygraphs as part of his own security clearance for ten years, explained that the calibration should be done with a simple question like the color of the subjects shirt. However, in the 1996 Georgia federal trial of U.S. v. Gilliard, the federal government presented the testimony of Thomas F. Lewis, II, a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI since 1976. Special Agent Lewis testified under oath that the FBI does not recognize any of the directed lie techniques.

First, Mr. Hamdan is asked to choose a number from one to ten, then cards are shown to him and he is asked if he had picked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. He truthfully responded as to which number he picked and which he did not. He was then asks a series of questions culminating with, "Did you hear a conversation on your cell phone regarding what you told us?"

Michael Hamdan did not lie in response to any of them. He was never asked to lie in response.

Hamdan spent four and one half hours at the FBI office.

The test was given three times, and between every set of questions the examiner came from behind Hamdan and took off the blood pressure cuff, spoke with him for awhile and then replaced it. S.A. Lewis testified that the issue of talking between tests causes him some concern. [Id.] He was exhausted and was suffering from recent cataract surgery the entire day.

When the test was over, the examiner told him that on only one question was there 5% uncertainty, meaning only 5% chance of a lie. Hamdan was told that they were going to stop the investigation concerning his claim but would 'be alert.' The FBI's only statement concerning the information that they were given:

"The FBI's investigation into the allegations made by Michael Hamdan is substantially complete. The remainder is expected to be concluded in the next several days. Results of the investigation to date do not substantiate these allegations and the FBI has determined that this information is not credible."

The AT& T records found no call from Hamdan's phone. This, however, supports his story as the intercept apparently prevented his call to home from going through. But this is a 'global' phone, leaving one to speculate that the overheard call was a call made to somewhere - on the other side of the globe.

But again, that's just speculation.

Hamdan told us "I was concerned for my family, but never felt afraid. I cannot feel afraid in my country, in my city. They should be afraid, they are hiding. They are afraid because they are hiding and they are hiding because they are cowards." His 4th of July plans include a barbeque and hopefully, watching fireworks later that night - in peace.

And in spite of the results, Hamdan would come forward again, "You bet your life. Every American should do it." Despite the media assault that greeted him in the morning paper the next day, his resolve is clear: "I hope no one else will be afraid to come forward with information," was his parting hope.

The leaves us with a man who could have simply purchased a TV ad to get fame, putting his reputation and good name on the line to report what he overheard in a phone call about a possible strike on Las Vegas this July 4th; calling the proper authorities; only to get a return call after the story hits the media; a questionable polygraph test, and a conclusion that "his information is not credible," some of the most vicious verbal assaults ever heard from a Mayor; concluding with what could only be described as a 'hit piece' in the Saturday paper to close out the week.

And this Real American - Michael Hamdan is sticking to his story. Is he telling the truth? You decide.

And if what he says he has heard is true, the gambling 'mecca' of the world could in for a day where the house looses.

To the FBI, this is a closed matter. But to many others, this story has only just begun. Stay tuned…

© 2002 (unless otherwise noted)

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Nevada
KEYWORDS: freedom; lasvegas; terror
I guess we shall find out shortly, but right now I wouldn't trust the judgement of the FBI in any matter of consequence. Seems to me that they gave this guy the gloss-over, and boy would it look bad if they are wrong. Lets hope they aren't!
1 posted on 06/28/2002 2:15:12 AM PDT by freeasinbeer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer
2 posted on 06/28/2002 2:16:13 AM PDT by freeasinbeer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer
Important reading bttt
3 posted on 06/28/2002 2:17:36 AM PDT by freeasinbeer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer
Why would the FBI want to stop an attack. Every time one happens they get more power and more money.

It is obvious they cannot get the job done.

Just my opinion.
4 posted on 06/28/2002 2:36:58 AM PDT by Iwentsouth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer
I'm not sure about the cell phone story. But...I think that this guy knows something and maybe can't reveal why and how he knows. He seem educated and affluent and American! If he is lying, why? Doesn't make any sense.
5 posted on 06/28/2002 2:44:45 AM PDT by M. T. Cicero II
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer; stand watie; kristinn; Magician
I agree with the Sierra Times.

With about 1500 Arabs in US federal custody without the ability to speak to any lawyers, why in the world would an Arab-American make this stuff up?

6 posted on 06/28/2002 3:13:34 AM PDT by japaneseghost
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer cus/news/705707/posts
7 posted on 06/28/2002 4:09:40 AM PDT by JudyB1938
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer
Wondering if the tickets to Vegas in August might be refundable.
8 posted on 06/28/2002 4:58:24 AM PDT by EggsAckley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer
All I can say is what are the odds of being able to overhear a cell phone call via another cell phone? With the extremely unlikely odds of that happening multiply that by the odds of the person overhearing the call being able to speak Arabic so he could understand it?

Possible, but extremely unlikely.

Now on the other hand, if he was illegally using a scanner to intercept cell phone calls and happened to catch this one the odds are much better...

9 posted on 06/28/2002 5:19:45 AM PDT by DB
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer; Iwentsouth; M. T. Cicero II; japaneseghost; JudyB1938; EggsAckley
Essentially i think what is happening here is that there is strong pressure from the economic hubs in Las Vegas to gloss this whole thing over so as not to mar the returns from gamblers and the like out for a good time on the fourth. And also they (the Feds) are probably using the guy's info to set up certain protective measures....but they will not tell the public that to ensure that panic doesn't ensue and the casinos can rack up some business.

Imagine the fall out if the FBI had said there indeed was a credible threat to Vegas! Business would have taken a nose dive on the days around July 4th. And business does not like nose dives!

The sad thing will be if the guy's assertions come true...and the furtive FBI traps fail to capture the would be terrorists. Let me just put it this way...the FBI will never live this mistake down!

And again as someone said.....if there are so many people of Arabic origin in custody without any chance of having a lawyer and other 'pleasantiries,' why then would Arab-American.....go forth with a cooked-up story? He does not seem the guy to look for cheap thrills, nor for his 15 minutes of fame (especially with the stakes involved for Arabs guilty or otherwise). And using Occam's Razor i have to say it is more probable he is saying the truth, and that there is a 'cover up' to ensure business does not collapse in Vegas around the 4th, and that panic does not ensue. (By the way i hate using the word sounds too much like something conspiracy-philes would say. LOL).

10 posted on 06/28/2002 5:24:31 AM PDT by spetznaz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: spetznaz
I tend to agree with you that Hamdan really has no reason to fabricated his story. In fact, given that he lives in Vegas, it would be nearly suicidal for him to promote this story, if not true. Having lived and worked in Nevada, I can tell you that the casino owners take their livlihood quite seriously. Anything that might discourage business is not ignored. Just look at the reaction of the (ex-Mob) Mayor. He wants to do a "hit" on Hamdan.

11 posted on 06/28/2002 5:45:56 AM PDT by EggsAckley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: spetznaz
Back in the early 70's in Las Vegas, there was some weirdo who thought he was a vampire. He'd parade around in a cape and everything. I forget the details now, but the police went out and found a body that had no blood in it. The neighbors all put out garlic - with the reasoning if the guy THOUGHT he was a vampire, it would be a good deterrent until they caught him. It was on the afternoon news. After that, nothing. I know it happened, because a friend of mine lived a few doors down the street from him. So what you are saying very well could be true.
12 posted on 06/28/2002 5:48:05 AM PDT by JudyB1938
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: japaneseghost
13 posted on 06/28/2002 9:41:53 AM PDT by stand watie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: freeasinbeer; EggsAckley
This is Las Vegas - where the house always wins, and where city bosses don't need reports such as 'terrorist threats' that might be 'bad for business.'

I believe the paragraph above explains what is going on. Kind of like the happy beach scene in 'Jaws' until something happens.

As for me, I am disgusted the FBI leaked this report to the press. Not only did they place this man's family in danger -- they created a media-zoo-scene.

14 posted on 06/28/2002 10:12:25 AM PDT by ex-Texan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ex-Texan; JudyB1938; EggsAckley; freeasinbeer; Iwentsouth; M. T. Cicero II; japaneseghost
Another problem of this is that if in the future some other person (especially an Arab-American) comes upon some informtation the FBI may be interested in, they will certainly think twice before 'offering' it. After all no one wants to try to be of assistance to his nation, and then those he is providing assistance to turn around and call him (or insinuate) that he/she is a liar and a quack! That is negative reinforcement, and it is one quick way to ensure that people do not provide more information!

Think about discover there is some plot to rob your local Walmart (let's say you overhear it in some way) and then, being a good citizen, you rush off to the police, at your inconvenience, to warn them of the impending heist! And then instead of accolades.....or at the very least a simply thankyou, for your good nature and helpful assistance, they turn around and start saying that you do not know what you are saying/are lying/are misinformed/etc etc! And this information is leaked to the media, painting you as either some attention junkie, a criminal trying to create a diversion, or just someone who wants to lead the authorities on a snipe hunt!

Now my question is this: Why would another person go to the authorities after seeing what happened to you? Human beings by nature do not reward hostility towards them with further assistance.....infact what they do is withdraw. And considering this guy is an Arab-American he has probably undergone enough stress due to the ilk of Usama (since most people cannot differentiate between people that look alike....meaning looking like a terrorist 'makes' you a terrorist). And when he tries to help his country he is labelled a quack!

In my opinion what the FBI should have done is listen to the guy, and then cover up the fact they had the info so that could set up secret stings and traps. Or another option would have been to report this to the media and let people make their own decisions based on the pertinent material.

However trying to 'subtlely insinuate' that the guy is a liar, and making people think his info was worthless or even worse an attempt to create a diversion is plain wrong. Especially when you consider the personal inconvenience this guy went through.

Actually it is also my honest opinion that even if his report was proven to be a TOTAL fabrication the FBI should still have kept it under wraps and arrested him. The reason is devaluing someone on public TV would easily make someone with REAL information to not go to the FBI due to fear! Especially if the informant is Arab-American.

A similar analogy is the Compton police in the mid-nineties where some African-American citizens with valid information on gangbangers would refuse adamantly to go to the cops since they thought doing so would only make them get labelled as gansters by the cops! They did not feel safe going to the precinct with their information.

This scenario is quickly becoming similar! After all why should someone with a good job and stable family risk it all only to get labelled as a liar and potential terrorist, and experience social stigma and the possibility of detention! I knwo several super-patriots who would do it nonetheless....however most people would back away and lay low, even if they ahve viable information.

And honestly i cannot blame them for that...especially when they have their own families to protect.

15 posted on 06/28/2002 12:14:27 PM PDT by spetznaz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson