American Muslims call for Defense Department investigation of EgyptAir crash
November 4, 1999
From Correspondents Susan Reed and Chris Plante
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The Muslim Public Affairs Council has sent a letter to Defense Secretary William Cohen calling for a full investigation into reports that an elite unit of Egyptian military officers was aboard the ill-fated EgyptAir Flight 990.
The group said it believes "the Egyptian government requested to sequester any information on this matter" and that the United States has not been forthcoming with details.
"The facts of this case are not as important as the impression that our government is attempting to conceal the facts," the letter says. "In order to extinguish any rumor of conspiracy in this matter, we ask that you offer full disclosure on the details of this aspect of this tragedy."
The United States has said 33 Egyptian military officers were aboard the plane when it crashed Sunday off Nantucket. The officers were in the United States for a variety of reasons, including meeting with defense contractors and receiving military training, according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon has said the Egyptian government asked the United States not to release further information about the Egyptians on the plane pending notification of next of kin.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council, a non-profit civic organization based in Los Angeles and Washington, drafted the letter after Mideast reports suggested an elite Egyptian military unit, including high-ranking officers, was on the plane.
Citing "some reports," the letter questions whether the officers were training at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.
John Haire, a spokesman at Edwards AFB, said "I'm not aware of any Egyptians to come through here in the last 30 days. We don't do training in terms of short-term operational training," he said. "We're not set up for that."
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon, asked if the Egyptian military officers were part of an elite unit, said, "I don't think that's true."
Bacon said he had not seen the letter from the Muslim group, but emphasized: "I don't think there is any reason to suspect terrorism (in this case), as opposed to other causes."
Investigators turn to recovery phase in EgyptAir crash
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