- The retirement of career FBI Special Agent Danny Defenbaugh,
accused by defense attorneys and plaintiffs in the Oklahoma City bombing
case of withholding key evidence, wasn't the only dramatic development
in the continuing controversies surrounding the April 19, 1995, attack
that killed 168 people.
- Insight has learned that the widow of Philippine-government
intelligence agent Edwin Angeles has provided audiotaped testimony to an
investigator working for the American victims' families that directly ties
Iraqi intelligence agents to Terry Nichols, the man sentenced in 1998 to
life in prison for his role in bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Building seven
- Elmina Abdul is the 27-year-old widow of Angeles, one
of the cofounders of the Abu Sayyaf group, a Muslim separatist terrorist
organization in the Philippines whose members trained in Osama bin Laden's
camps in Afghanistan. Her astonishing story, revealed in this exclusive
story for the first time, could blow the lid off what a growing number
of people believe is a U.S. government cover-up of vital evidence in the
Oklahoma City bombing case. It also exposes an alleged plot ginned up by
former Philippine president Fidel Ramos to manipulate Abu Sayyaf as a means
of enhancing his personal political power.
- With the knowledge that she was dying of liver disease,
Elmina agreed to meet with Dorian Zumel Sicat, a Manila Times correspondent
serving as an investigative liaison in the Philippines and the Pacific
Rim for Oklahoma City lawyer Mike Johnston, who represents the victims'
families. "I want to tell the truth of what I know of my late husband,"
she said in a taped audio statement.
- Angeles was "what they call a 'deep-penetration
agent'" who was working for "some very powerful men in the DND,"
the Philippine national defense-intelligence agency, Elmina said. Angeles
was arrested in 1995 after he had negotiated a deal to turn himself in
to the Philippine authorities. By that point, the Abu Sayyaf he had helped
create in 1991 with bin Laden protégé Abdurajjak Abu Bakr
Janjalani had carried out a series of terrorist attacks. These included
a failed assault on a U.S. Information Agency library in Manila in January
1991 that was part of a worldwide terrorist campaign against U.S. interests
orchestrated by Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.
- "Does the name 'Ramzi Yousef' mean something to
you, Mr. Sicat?" Elmina asked. Angeles had extensive meetings with
Yousef and two Americans, including one whom he called "Terry"
or "The Farmer," she said.
- Angeles ultimately was cleared of terrorism charges at
trial, when documents proving he was working as a government agent were
produced. He was released from prison in 1996 but not before he provided
astonishing details during a videotaped interrogation by Philippine police
authorities of his activities with Abu Sayyaf, including the secret meetings
with Iraqi intelligence agent Yousef, Nichols and the second American identified
in the document as John Lepney.
- The earliest meetings took place at a Del Monte canning
plant in Davao in late 1992 and early 1993 just prior to the first World
Trade Center bombing. Later meetings with Nichols, Yousef and the second
American whose name has never been revealed until now took place at Angeles'
house in late 1994, according to a report on that interrogation which has
been obtained by investigators working for attorney Johnston, who has been
joined by Judicial Watch in representing families of those murdered in
the Oklahoma City bombing.
- Angeles also revealed the meetings to Elmina, who became
his third wife in 1997, "because he knew that he would soon be killed,"
she said in her audiotaped statement with Sicat, which was witnessed by
a Philippine-government official. "He wanted me to know everything
so that if anything happened to him I could tell others." Also present
at those meetings was a half-brother of Yousef, who was using the pseudonym
Ahmad Hassim, she said.
- "They met almost every day for one week. They met
in an empty bodega [warehouse]. They talked about bombings. They mentioned
bombing government buildings in San Francisco, St. Louis and in Oklahoma.
The Americans wanted instructions on how to make and to explode bombs.
He [Edwin] told me that Janjalani was very interested in paying them much
money to explode the buildings. The money was coming from Yousef and the
- When asked if Angeles had told her the results of those
conversations, Elmina replied: "He told me that the Americans exploded
one bomb in Oklahoma in 1995, after he was arrested and after we first
- Later in the interview, she chided Sicat for not knowing
that Yousef was "representing Iraq and Saddam Hussein."
- "Did Edwin tell you that?" Sicat asked.
- "Not only Edwin, but others that were close to us,
before he was killed," Elmina said. "One time, a [Philippine-army]
soldier and Edwin were talking secretly. I was there because Edwin demanded
[it]. The soldier ordered Edwin never to tell anybody about the Iraqis."
- On Jan. 14, 1999, Elmina was waiting for her husband
in an open-air market in Isabela, the provincial capital of Basilan province.
Suddenly, as he emerged from a nearby mosque, she watched as two of his
former associates walked up behind him and, with .45-caliber automatics,
pumped six bullets into him. He staggered toward her and died in her arms.
- The video interrogation linking Nichols to Yousef, bin
Laden and Iraq initially was obtained by Stephen Jones, the defense attorney
who represented convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. But at
the insistence of federal prosecutors, trial judge Richard P. Matsch refused
to admit it into evidence.
- The judge also refused to admit into evidence the testimony
of Yousef coconspirator Abdul Hakim Murad, who was a federal prisoner at
the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Murad was awaiting
trial for his part in Project Bojinka, a plot hatched up by Yousef to blow
up 11 U.S. 747 jetliners over the Pacific Ocean in 1995 (see "Iraqi
Connection to Oklahoma Bombing," April 15). On the day of the Oklahoma
City bombing he told his jailers that Yousef had orchestrated the plot.
- "Why should Murad be believed?" Johnston asks
rhetorically. "For one thing, Murad made his 'confession' voluntarily
and spontaneously. Most important, Murad tied Ramzi Yousef to the Oklahoma
City bombing long before Terry Nichols was publicly identified as a suspect."
- Johnston informed Jones last week he would be serving
him with a desk subpoena to obtain this and other materials that were either
sealed by the court or not admitted as evidence in the McVeigh trial. Shortly
after Johnston got off the phone with him, Jones received threatening calls
from federal prosecutors in Denver and Oklahoma City, warning him not to
release the materials, Insight is told by a close associate of the lawyer.
Jones did not return several calls by press time.
- FBI spokesman Bill Carter tells Insight the FBI was unaware
of a "foreign terrorist connection" to the Oklahoma City bombing.
"There is no evidence of a foreign connection in our files,"
he says. "The Oklahoma City bombing was investigated thoroughly by
the FBI; no evidence was found that would tie it to any foreign terrorist
group. If we had found any evidence, it would have been presented."
- That statement, like so many others from the government
in this murky case, appears to be extraordinarily misleading to the families
of victims still not convinced that they or the American public know the
full story of what happened seven years ago.
- In the Philippines, the real story of the Abu Sayyaf
and its ties to Iraq, bin Laden and to former president Ramos who is planning
a comeback into Philippine politics is a dangerous topic.
- In his videotaped interrogation, Angeles says Yousef
first approached him in July 1989 as the "personal envoy" of
bin Laden to set up a new base for regional Islamic expansion on the Muslim
island of Mindanao. At the time, bin Laden's brother-in-law, Mohammad Jamal
Khalifa, was operating commercial front companies in the Philippines for
bin Laden. This apparently led to the creation of the Abu Sayyaf.
- A former CIA station chief in Manila confirms to Insight
that bin Laden came to the Philippines personally in 1992 and was flown
down to Mindanao in a government C-130 aircraft by then-president Ramos.
"Bin Laden presented himself as a wealthy Saudi who wanted to invest
in Muslim areas and donate money to charity," the former CIA officer
- While Yousef was collecting money from bin Laden, he
was taking orders from Iraq and is believed by U.S. intelligence officials
to have carried out the June 20, 1994, bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine
in Mashad, Iran, on orders from Iraq. Yousef reportedly carried out that
attack with help from his own father and a younger brother, Abdul Muneem,
in conjunction with an Iraqi front group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization,
also known as the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran.
- Angeles "knew he was going to be killed by his own
people once he was released from jail," Sicat tells Insight in a telephone
interview from Davao, a city on Mindanao. "The question is, who were
his own people? Abu Sayyaf, or the cabal who had Angeles help set them
- Angeles' second wife, who had prepared the meals for
Nichols and Yousef, was gunned down during a government raid on an Abu
Sayyaf safe house in 1996. Elmina died last month just days after giving
her taped audio statements to Sicat, who tells Insight that he has received
death threats and been shot at in recent weeks by unknown assailants. He
recently has been given round-the- clock police protection by the government,
which is investigating the attacks.
- If the remaining witnesses live long enough, the only
question left is whether the Bush administration will order the FBI to
reopen its files. Or, as some of the lawyers in the case and their clients
fear, the administration will endorse what they believe - and testimony
now in hand suggests - was a wider conspiracy that was hidden by the Clinton
administration and Janet Reno's Justice Department. It may require full
and open congressional hearings if the current administration refuses to
help or otherwise blocks the federal courts from re-examining the case
to find out why the U.S. government shut down preliminary investigations
into possible overseas links to the murder of Americans in downtown Oklahoma
- Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight magazine.
- Read the deathbed confession.
- Transcript of Deathbed Confession
- The following interview with ELMINA ABDUL, widow of EDWIN
ANGELES, one of the cofounders of the ABU SAYYAF GROUP (ASG), and deep
cover agent for the Defense Intelligence Group (DIG) of the Department
of National Defense (DND), of the Republic of the Philippines, was taken
on March 10, 2002, in the presence of CHRISTOPHER M. PUNO, Information
Officer of the Province of Basilan, at BASCOM Hospital, in the general
- TRANSLATED TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH ELMINA ABDUL,
WIDOW TO EDWIN ANGELES TAKEN AT BASILAN COMMUNITY HOSPITAL GENERAL WARD
ISABELA CITY, PROVINCE OF BASILAN REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES BY DORIAN
ZUMEL SICAT NEWS CORRESPONDENT MANILA TIMES, OMEGA NEWS SERVICE (USA)
- (After introduction to ELMINA ABDUL by Provincial Information
Officer Christopher Puno)
- NOTE: I interviewed ELMINA in Tagalog, she answered me
in Chavacano and Cebuano, two of the local dialects spoken in Basilan.
She did not speak in the indigenous dialect because she knew that I do
not speak or understand that dialect.
- DZS: Good morning Ms. Angeles
- DZS: How are you feeling this morning?
- EA: Not very well.
- DZS: Do you feel like talking with me?
- EA: Yes, but not so long. I am tired.
- DZS: I will try to be as short as possible. Did Chris
tell you what I am here to talk to you about?
- EA: Yes. And I am the one who asked him to look for you
after I was told that you are interested in the truth about my husband.
- DZS: Good. Okay. You are not Edwin's first wife, is that
- EA: Yes. I am his third wife. For Muslim men, they can
have even four wives, if each of the other ones approve.
- DZS: How, when and where did you meet Edwin?
- EA: We met when he was in the Provincial Jail here in
Isabela, in 1995. I was then working for the government radio station,
dxOS (Philippine Information Agency)/PIA.
- DZS: That was after his capture?
- EA: Yes.
- DZS: When did you marry him?
- EA: In 1997.
- DZS: I am going to ask you some very sensitive questions
now. Is that all right with you?
- EA: Yes. I want to tell the truth of what I know of my
- DZS: Did you know that he was one of those who founded
the ASG, along with the late Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, in 1991?
- EA: Yes. I know also why he was one of them.
- DZS: Can you tell me why?
- EA: Yes, I want to tell you why. I want now to tell the
truth about my husband. I will die soon. I want you to know the truth.
Will you write the truth, Mr. Sicat?
- DZS: Yes. I will. I promise.
- EA: You are not afraid?
- DZS: More than you know, Mrs. Angeles.
- EA: Good. Maybe you will stay alive and safe because
of your fear. I will tell you that Edwin was ordered to do that.
- DZS: Can you explain please.
- EA: He was what they call a deep penetration agent or
- DZS: Can you explain please?
- EA: As I told you, he was given orders.
- DZS: By whom?
- EA: Some very powerful men in the DND.
- DZS: Did he tell you why?
- EA: No. Only that he was ordered to help to organize
the ASG and to report all developments.
- DZS: Did he tell you who it was?
- EA: Not by names. But he told my only at the highest
- DZS: Did he ever tell you about his activities in the
ASG before he met you?
- EA: He told me everything. I do not believe that he would
hide anything from me when we were talking alone.
- DZS: Please do not be offended, but how do you know that?
- EA: Not only because I was his wife, but because he knew
that he would soon be killed. He wanted me to know everything so that if
anything happened to him I could tell others.
- DZS: Do you want to stop now?
- EA: No. More water please.
- DZS: Can I ask you about some things that happened back
in the mid-90s? 1993, 1994?
- EA: Yes. I will try to answer what you ask.
- DZS: Did he ever talk to you about meetings with Arabs
- EA: Yes, once he had met with some Arabs and Americans
in 1994, in Davao (City), or General Santos (City).
- DZS: Did he tell you who they were?
- EA: Does the name Ramsey Yousef mean something to you
- DZS: Ahmad Hassim. Does that mean something to you?
- EA: He had met with them. And an American who he called
Terry or the Farmer, and another American whom he did not name.
- DZS: Was the American he named as Terry, Terry Nichols?
- EA: He did not mention the surname. Only Terry.
- DZS: Did he tell you why and how many times they had
- EA: They met almost every day for one week. They met
in an empty bodega (warehouse). They talked about bombings. They mentioned
bombing government buildings in San Francisco, Saint Louis and in Oklahoma.
The Americans wanted instructions how to make and to explode bombs. He
(Edwin) told me that Janjalani was very interested in paying them much
money to explode the buildings. The money was coming from Yousef and the
- DZS: Did he tell you when the bombs would explode; when
- EA: He told me that the Americans exploded one bomb in
Oklahoma in 1995, after he was arrested and after we first met.
- DZS: Did he ever tell you who was supplying the money
for the bombing of the building, I mean who Yousef was working with or
- EA: Mr. Sicat, you are the mediaman. Do you not know
that Yousef was representing Iraq and Saddam Hussein? Do you not know that?
- DZS: Did Edwin tell you that?
- EA: Not only Edwin, but others that were close to us,
before he was killed. One time, a soldier (Philippine Army) and Edwin were
talking secretly. I was there because Edwin demanded. The soldier ordered
Edwin never to tell anybody about the Iraqis.
- DZS: Did you ever see that soldier before or after that
- EA: Only two times before. He was the one who would talk
to him for information.
- DZS: Mrs. Angeles, do you know who killed your husband,
- EA: The ones who used him and then betrayed him, Mr.
Sicat. (She grows visibly weaker). I want to rest now.
- DZS: I understand. I'll let you rest now. Thank you so
much, Mrs. Angeles. You have told me so much. I will try to see you tomorrow
if you are up to it.
- NOTE: I was not able to speak with ELMINA again. She
became too weak and incoherent the following day. A few days later, the
doctors had diagnosed that she was terminal. She needed to be transferred
to Davao City to the Regional Hospital (government) for treatment. A few
days later, while I was in Davao, arranging for her admission to the Regional
Hospital, Chris told me that she could no longer be moved. She would die
in transit. Since Muslims require burial within 24 hours of death, I understood
the reasoning. The following day, Chris contacted me that ELMINA ABDUL,
widow to EDWIN ANGELES (killed by unknown assailants in 1998), died in
the pre-dawn hours Saturday March 30. She was the last one to talk with
her husband before he was killed. I was the last and only reporter to talk
with her about her husband before she died.
- (sgd) DORIAN ZUMEL SICAT News Correspondent Manila Times
/Omega News Service (USA) Investigative Liaison to Law Office of John Michael
Johnston Robert Bickel, Sr. Senior Investigator and Legal Analyst
- Law offices of John Michael Johnston Elmina Abdul Angeles