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Terrorist to hit US again

Discussion in 'General' started by Bud Head, Nov 15, 2002.

  1. WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 — Two days after intelligence experts said an audiotaped threat indicated terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was still alive, the FBI has warned that al-Qaida is likely to attempt a “spectacular” attack intended to kill many people and cause massive damage to the U.S. economy. But White House officials said the warning was based on a summary of intelligence, not new information, and that an attack was not imminent. In addition, the government did not increase its terror alert status, used to notify the public of potential attacks.

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    IN A BULLETIN circulated to law enforcement officials nationwide, the FBI says, “Sources suggest al-Qaida may favor spectacular attacks that meet several criteria: High symbolic value, mass casualties, severe damage to the U.S. economy and maximum psychological trauma.”
    The FBI posted the alert on its Web site early Friday, after The Associated Press and The New York Times reported its existence.
    NBC’s Pete Williams reported that U.S. officials said the warning follows a series of events — topped by the recent release of an audiotaped message believed to be from bin Laden that could contain a message to al-Qaida members — rather than any new intelligence. “It’s a building of concern,” one official said on condition on anonymity.
    Senior Bush administration officials sought to play down any suggestion of an immediate terrorist threat.
    “The American people are in many ways the first line of defense,” said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

    She repeated that the latest warning contained no new information, calling it instead a “summary of intelligence as we know it.”
    White House spokesman Scott McClellan cited the lack of any intelligence about specific time, date, location or method of possible attack as the reason for keeping the nation’s official terrorist threat level at code yellow, the middle of a five-level scale of risk developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
    “We continue to be on high levels of alert, we continue to take additional precautions,” McClellan said.

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    Federal authorities previously have issued general warnings for specific industries and national landmarks. But there is clearly worry that the danger of an attack is growing because of increased “chatter” picked up through intelligence channels, the continuing U.S. showdown with Iraq and the warnings this week believed to be from bin Laden.
    Read excerpts from the bin Laden tape

    Appearances by America’s most wanted man

    April 17-18, 2002Dec. 27, 2001Dec. 12, 2001Nov. 7, 2001Nov. 3, 2001Oct. 7, 2001Oct. 4, 2001June 20, 2001Jan. 10, 2001Sept. 21, 2000Jan. 15, 1999May 28, 1998August 10, 1997
    The "Riverside tape," believed shot in October 2001, is shown on Arabic language broadcasters MBC and al-Jazeera in slightly different versions. In this tape, bin Laden praises the effects the Sept. 11 attacks had on the U.S. economy. Also on tape: Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s chief lieutenant.
    "The Gaunt Tape," so named because bin Laden is haggard and doesn’t move his left arm, is believed to have been recorded in late November 2001. Al-Jazeera airs the tape.
    Washington releases tape of the "dinner party" in which bin Laden describes planning for the Sept. 11 attacks. Shot in mid-November, possibly Nov. 9, 2001, in Kandahar. Released by the U.S. government to all broadcasters. Also on tape: Khaled al-Harbi, a Saudi cleric.
    Bin Laden’s sons play in the wreckage of a downed U.S. helicopter, believed to have been shot in October. The tape is shown on al-Jazeera. Video later shows up as part of a tape the U.S. government releases in December 2001.
    Bin Laden, dressed in camouflage and armed with an AK-47, says in a tape aired by al-Jazeera that Afghanistan is in a religious war. "The people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with this matter. The campaign, however, continues to unjustly annihilate the villagers and civilians, children, women and innocent people." There’s no indication of when the tape was shot, but almost certainly it was within weeks, if not days, prior to its release, since it refers to U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
    A threatening tape released at the start of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and shown on al-Jazeera. It is believed to have been shot in late September or early October. Also on tape: bin Laden spokesman Abu Ghaith, chief lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Mohammed Atef, bin Laden’s military commander.
    The al-Qaida graduation ceremony tape. Al-Jazeera reports the tape was made after the Sept. 11 attacks, but U.S. intelligence says it was shot in June 2001 to celebrate the merger of al-Qaida and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Also seen on the tape: Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
    A 98-minute al-Qaida training tape believed to have been shot at various times -- but after the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 and before the U.S. presidential inauguration in January 2001 – is distributed by APTN and Reuters. Bin Laden praises the bombers of the USS Cole: "And the courage of our youth was witnessed in Aden, where they destroyed their destroyer and instilled fear. ... Their ships stand so arrogantly in our ports."
    Tape of bin Laden celebrating the marriage of his teenage son, Mohammed, to the daughter of Mohammed Atef, his military commander. The tape was shot the previous day in Afghanistan. Also on the tape: Atef and Mohammed bin Laden.
    Tape shown on al-Jazeera of bin Laden and three Egyptian clerics calling for the release of Abdul Rahman, a blind sheik imprisoned in the United States. It’s believed to have been filmed sometime between March and May 2000. Also on the tape: Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s lieutenant, and Rifai Ahmad Taha, a leading figure in the armed Egyptian group, Jamaa Islamiya, and Assad Allah, son of Sheikh Abdel Rahman. Shown on Al-Jazeera.
    In an interview with al-Jazeera, bin Laden praises those who carried out the August 1998 Africa embassy bombings, saying the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, was hit because "because it was the major U.S. intelligence center in East Africa.” More of the interview with al-Jazeera is broadcast on June 10.
    In an interview with ABC's John Miller, bin Laden praises Ramzi Yousef and Wali Khan Amin Shah, convicted in the Day of Hate airliner plot, saying "America will see many youths who will follow Ramzi Yousef." Bin Laden also praises the bombers of the Khobar Towers U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia. “We predict a black day for America and the end of the United States as United States ... Allah willing." Mohammed Atef also seen on the tape.
    In an interview with CNN's Peter Arnett, bin Laden praises the bombing of the U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia. "If the American government is serious about avoiding the explosions inside the U.S., then let it stop provoking the feelings of 1,250 million Muslims," he says.

    Source: NBC News
    Printable version

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    In recent weeks, the FBI has issued warnings about possible attacks on U.S. railroads and on the energy industry, as well as a more general warning about heightened risk during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started Wednesday and ends Dec. 5.
    “We’re especially sensitive to time frames which might be thought by the enemy to be a time when they might want to make a statement,” Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
    On Wednesday, the FBI told authorities in Houston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington to be aware of threats against hospitals. Even though that threat was assigned low credibility by senior law enforcement officials, the FBI is preferring to err on the side of caution in terms of giving out information, officials said.
    The idea is to increase vigilance among local police and people working in industries that are potential targets.
    WashPost: Europe also warned of attack

    Last week, the State Department warned that Thursday’s execution of Pakistani Aimal Khan Kasi in Virginia could lead to reprisals against Americans. Two days after his November 1997 conviction, assailants shot and killed four American oil company workers in Karachi, Pakistan. Kasi was executed for killing two CIA employees in a 1993 shooting outside the agency’s headquarters.

    Extras to help you understand this complex story:

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    The recent nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia, the assault on Marines in Kuwait and the attack on a French oil tanker near Yemen — as well as the U.S. strike on a car carrying suspected terrorists, also in Yemen — are described by several law enforcement officials as actions that point to an increased threat.
    “If there was any doubt in anybody’s mind that al-Qaida remains a dangerous threat to America or the world, I suspect it was dispelled with the string of attacks,” Tom Ridge, director of the White House homeland security office, said Thursday.
    It is up to Ridge and Ashcroft to decide whether a change in threat level is warranted. Ashcroft and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson are among a few Justice Department officials who see the daily raw intelligence on terrorism gathered by the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies.
    The threat level was elevated from yellow to orange for two weeks in September to coincide with the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. It has remained at yellow since then, but the possibility of U.S. military action against Iraq has lawmakers and the Bush administration on guard.
    “I think that as we ratchet up toward Iraq, we have to believe that there will be attempts in this country anywhere, perhaps everywhere, to do us harm,” Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN.

    • Profiles of suspects; leads being followed

    Ridge and FBI Director Robert Mueller say the nation is far better prepared to detect and stop a terrorist attack than it was prior to Sept. 11, 2001. They say the intelligence sharing among agencies is vastly improved, as well as information about airplane passengers, people who enter through U.S. border crossings and students who lose their status and remain in this country.

    Meanwhile, in a broadside aimed at the Bush administration’s handling of potential threats, a top Democrat on Thursday questioned whether the United States is “winning the war on terror.”
    “We can’t find bin Laden, we haven’t made real progress” in finding key elements of al-Qaida, said Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota. “They continue to be as great a threat today as they were one and a half years ago. So by what measure can we claim to be successful so far?”
    Daschle likened bin Laden to the Washington-area sniper, who unleashed a wave of terror around the nation’s capital. “Osama Bin Laden is the sniper,” he said. “He is terrorizing this country as the sniper terrorized Washington.”
    In response, White House spokesman McClellan said the United States has made “tremendous progress” in the terror fight.

    NBC’s Pete Williams in Washington, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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