Who was the first casualty of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City, and Washington, D.C.? Was it a Yale College senior named Suzanne Jovin, a political science major and the daughter of a prominent scientist named Thomas Jovin? Jovin was murdered on December 4th of 1998 in New Haven, Connecticut, but not on the Yale campus.
Like almost every aspect of our lives here in the new century, the answers to difficult questions like -- Who Killed Suzanne Jovin? -- have to be found by 'walking the cat backwards,' and by employing the scientific methods of that fictional detective and genius, Sherlock Holmes. To live in a time when propaganda and the media which carry it dominate every aspect of our lives is to be alive when ideas -- thoughts formed into coherence and given meanings -- truly have the most power of all possible weapons.
Propaganda in this new and modern era often takes the form of entertainment, and the great successes of the free republican union of sovereign States can be found in the dramatic rise of all kinds of media, since motion picture photography was made both practical and affordable (about 1898).
The clues to figuring out why Jovin was murdered have all emerged since that bloody 11th day in September -- and whether or not the Saudi expatriate Osama bin Laden is really to blame for it, he is getting the blame for it. That provides the first clue. The second clue arrived in the new television show, "Alias," created by Touchstone for ABC entertainment. The storyline revolves around a smart, sassy graduate student named Sydney Bristow, who works for a special branch of the CIA known as SD-6. In the body of the show itself, viewers learn that Sydney was recruited during her freshman year in college, and trained while she was still an undergraduate. Then, in the course of the first episode, the audience learns that SD-6 is not really a branch of the CIA at all, but is a rogue operation which split off from the government some years earlier! It now has its own sources of income and operates for profit and to perpetuate itself.
Does any of this begin to sound like "Conspiracy Nation?"
The murder of Suzanne Jovin has baffled nearly all those persons who have come to look at it with a serious mind, and the events surrounding her death have caused the police department of New Haven to be showered with brickbats, nearly all richly deserved.
In her last year as an undergraduate on campus, Jovin was working on her senior thesis under the guidance of a lecturer named James Van de Velde. He was, at the time, a rising star in political science who was in the Naval Reserve, and who had ostensibly worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. He had superb academic credentials and was well-liked by the students who signed up for his seminars. He had done well as the dean of a residential college at Yale, an important posting for any man or woman who wants to seek long-term employment in academics. Van de Velde had agreed to be Jovin's thesis advisor even though he was not actually a professor: she was one of six students he was mentoring.
She was also a student in his seminar, entitled "Strategy And Policy In The Conduct Of War." Furthermore, Jovin had chosen to write about a fellow named Osama bin Laden, and it was only a few months after the brutally effective bombing attacks on two U.S. embassies in eastern Africa. Jovin was popular with her fellow students and well-liked by those Yale administrators who had occaison to hire her, or work with her as a volunteer.
Friday, December 4th, was an evening when she was working in such a capacity, volunteering to host a pizza party for some of the mentally-retarded adults in the Best Buddies program. In fact, it was her fourth year of involvement with the Buddies, and that kind of work and the spirit she brought to it made the people who knew her well call Jovin "bubbly," and filled with "enthusiasm."
Earlier in the day, Suzanne Jovin had turned in the revised version of her senior essay on bin Laden: she had dropped it off at the office of James Van de Velde. Although the deadline for this essay was looming, and Van de Velde had been a bit tardy in getting back to her with comments on the first draft, Jovin's friends said that as of Friday evening, she didn't seem "to be upset about anything." This was later severely contradicted by statements made by her father, but not until months had passed.
Since the terrorist events of September 11th have occurred, the following clues can be put together in sequence:
*** Islamic radicals infiltrate into the former Yugoslavia as the bloody civil war between the Bosnian Serbs and everybody else lurches forward, and the Clintonista crew does next to nothing about it -- except to watch from afar.
*** Kosovo Liberation Army elements apparently get recruiting help and financial support from Osama bin Laden, and promptly begin trans-shipping heroin and other drugs through their turf.
*** Bin Laden appears to be directly linked to the bomb attack against the World Trade Center in February of 1993, as further investigations, trials and news reports disclose, although many things are not known or known widely until 1995 or '96.
*** U.S. embassies in Africa are attacked in 1998 and bin Laden gets the blame or the credit, whichever is preferred.
*** Van de Velde opens his course on Strategy in the autumn of 1998 and is over-subscribed, so students are turned away; Jovin joins the seminar and selects him as her advisor. Van de Velde has previously served a tour of duty with the U.S. forces in Bosnia that President Clinton had once promised to withdraw.
*** On a warm Friday night in early December, Suzanne Jovin is murdered at a few minutes before 10:00 PM. She is apparently stabbed to death while standing on a street corner in a very deluxe neighborhood on the northern side of New Haven. She is almost exactly two miles from the Yale Campus -- and no one can explain how she got there.
The murder shocks a campus which is otherwise gearing up for final examinations and senior papers. Within a few days, some highly selective leaks from the New Haven police department to various Connecticut newspapers puts James Van de Velde directly into the harsh light of suspicion. Despite having no apparent motive for killing the young woman, he is sandbagged, and giving a 'virtual tar-and-feathers job' by the mass media and certainly by the New Haven Register, the only daily paper in town. The principal links to Van de Velde are present, but tenuous: she was his student, and he was her advisor; she was killed on the street where he had an apartment at the time, but more than 1/2 mile from his place; she had seen him, briefly, earlier in that day, and except for walking over to check out a Yale hockey game, Van de Velde had no 'alibi witness' for the hour or so preceeding Jovin's death. But no murder weapon was ever found, and no eye witness was ever located, by the New Haven Police Department.
In the months which follow, Van de Velde's budding career is ruined: he is summarily dropped from a graduate program at Quinnipiac College (now University), simply for being under suspicion; his spring semester courses at Yale are cancelled by a cowardly University administration, despite there being no complaints of any misconduct against him, and despite there being no formal charges made against him by any prosecutor or grand jury. His name is bandied about as Jovin's killer, and it is suggested that he was stalking her because she had rejected his romantic advances, yet none of Jovin's friends could ever say that they were having a love affair or a sexual fling. She was dating someone her own age, too, and neither the Connecticut news media nor the Yale Daily News could turn up any romantic links between the handsome and conservative lecturer, and the bubbly co-ed Jovin.
Finally, her parents launch a media offensive of their own, slamming the University for hiring Van de Velde and suggesting in the interviews that they give to Connecticut newspapers that he was terrorizing their daughter, that he was a bad egg and cold or something evil -- and so on. Van de Velde is ruined in reputation and cannot get employment. For the Jovins at the end of 1998, their younger daughter is still dead, no one is ever charged with her murder, and no other suspects are ever named (nor, apparently, were any other persons ever interrogated).
The name of Osama bin Laden fades into the background, "the Monica Lewinsky case" dominates the news for months, and then Elian Gonzalez takes center stage when he is rescued from the choppy waters off Florida. Two full years after Jovin's death, there are the usual recitations of facts, the rewards for finding Jovin's killer(s) finally rise to $150,000 but nothing breaks -- until earlier this year (2001). In a comprehensive article about Van de Velde and Jovin, Les Gura reveals that Jovin was working on a paper about the Saudi renegade Osama bin Laden. There is an intense flurry of interest in the case, the New Haven Register re-interviews Van de Velde, and then soon after begins "the Summer of Chandra," with another attractive young collegiate woman taking the center of the media's attention.
However, since the awful events of 9/11, certain things come clearly into focus: the Al Qaeda movement or terrorist network has been in place for years in Germany; Suzanne Jovin was raised in Germany and her father and mother live in Gottingen. One of bin Laden's principal money-managers was detained for a time in connection with the embassy bombings in Africa, but was let go.
Two of the airplanes commandeered for 9/11 were hijacked after leaving Boston, and it is only two hours by car from Boston to New Haven -- so if there was an active Al Qaeda cell there, it would be easy for its members to get down to New Haven to take care of a pesky little coed who was snooping around the bin Laden trail!
Finally, a comprehensive review of the last hour of Jovin's life reveals that she did not have time to walk nor to run to the street corner in northern New Haven, where she was killed, from her last known position on the Yale campus. She was not seen on the university shuttle bus. Therefore, she had to accept or obtain a ride in a vehicle -- a car or a van -- of some kind.
That means Suzanne Jovin knowingly put herself in the company of one or more people, in a car or van, which set off from the center of the Yale campus and covered the two miles to East Rock and Edgehill in approximately twelve to fifteen minutes. That is a leisurely pace which would not draw any suspicion. Only thirty-three minutes, total, elapse from the last time that she is seen in the center of Yale (9:25 pm), to the time her body was found, still warm and bleeding (9:58 pm), two miles away.
Either Suzanne Jovin was killed by a total stranger, on a street corner in a good neighborhood where she had not one good reason to be walking, on a balmy December evening; or she was killed by someone who knew her, and for whom she had some level of trust. Or she was set up by someone she knew, and killed by a third person, after being persuaded to get out of the van or car which carried her to that corner, that night. There are no other possibilities of any known kind (unless a person believes in teleportation). Jovin must have set an appointment earlier in the day or at about 9:00 PM that evening, when she briefly stopped by her apartment facing the Yale campus before going on to turn in the keys to a university van. She was definitely logged on to her computer at that time. She sent at least one e-mail that has been reported. But did she use "instant messaging?" Was there a telephone message that she erased after hearing it? Was there some other form of message drop made?
Was Suzanne Jovin -- like the heroic beauty in the new television show "Alias," -- recruited to be a spy early on in her Yale career? Was Van de Velde her controller, or just a very unlucky fellow, who got tarred and feathered for being her thesis advisor and who has been personally ruined by both the egg-sucking weasels of the Connecticut press and by Yale's leadership?
Suzanne Jovin was precisely the kind of bright, clever, and multi-lingual operative that any intelligence agency might want to have on its rolls. Who, then, recruited her? Was she working for some group -- kind of like the fictional SD-6 on "Alias" -- that was a renegade group and no longer loyal to the U.S.?
What other reason is there to kill a bright young woman, in the peak of her academic career, if she was not -- even just accidentally -- getting too close to the truth about Osama bin Laden, whatever that really, really is!?! Every murder brings with the possibility of discovery. Murder in the spy business is entirely too common to be remarkable, but it is always risky.
It has been suggested that bin Laden knew Van de Velde was "a comer" at Yale and wanted to strike at him, because of his work -- whatever it was -- during his tour of duty in Bosnia. That is far-fetched enough to be plausible, too! Because nothing about the murder of Suzanne Jovin makes any sense if normal standards of investigation are used. She wasn't a threat to anyone.
She wasn't having a romance with Van de Velde. He simply does not fit the profile of a psychotic killer. She was not in jeopardy for dealing drugs or because she was going to rat out a drug dealer, these being the two most common reasons that people in New Haven get murdered (aside from romantic jealousies), in the course of the 1990s at least. She was a good student, a good friend, a volunteer and a treasured part of the Yale community.
But if Suzanne Jovin was a spy, or if perhaps she was an agent-in-training and she was getting oh-so-close to the real story about Osama bin Laden -- then she marked herself for death and never even knew it. Maybe she was contacted by people who fronted for some other person, or group, to set her up for "the kill". We will never know unless the FBI or the CIA or the DIA divulges all that they know from their Echelon files and every other source they have available.
Chalk up another casualty for the bloody day of 9/11. Suzanne Jovin was, in my estimation, murdered for pursuing some line of inquiry into the past and the operations of Osama bin Laden. Nothing else makes any sense at all, and as far-fetched as this maybe -- we know for sure, for absolutely certain, that the plot to destroy the World Trade Center was five years in the making.
There is ample reason to think that having invested two full years into the project, that a bin Laden affiliate or cell might decide to "take out" a pesky young Yalie who was floating around the Internet, sending e-mails and asking too many questions.
Here is a part of a blurb by ABC TV on their new show, "Alias":
"When Sydney Bristow breaks protocol and tells Danny about her secret life, her world is spun terrifyingly sideways: Danny’s life is placed in mortal danger, and Sydney is in a fight for her own life. She discovers that her long-estranged father, Jack (Victor Garber, "Titanic"), is also SD-6 and that the organization is covering up a nefarious plan -- they are not a branch of the CIA, but are actually an enemy of the United States. With nowhere else to turn, Sydney seeks the aid of the real CIA in hopes of putting SD-6 out of business. She is put under the command of operations officer Vaughn (Michael Vartan, "The Mists of Avalon") who enlists Sydney to become a double agent. Her mission is to complete her cases at SD-6 while reporting her findings back to the CIA. But when Sydney finds out that her father is also affiliated with the CIA, she begins to question where his true allegiances really lie."
Propaganda is the art of using real and reliable information to tailor a message and to enforce a policy -- a policy which may be based on true things, false things, or a combination of both -- and all of the best television shows now on American TV are propaganda. All of them have been since Bonanza was new.