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Bin Laden hints major assassination

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By Bill Gertz

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Published August 11, 2004

http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20040811-123531-3824r

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U.S. intelligence officials say a high-profile political assassination, triggered by the public release of a new message from Osama bin Laden, will lead off the next major al Qaeda terrorist attack, The Washington Times has learned.

The assassination plan is among new details of al Qaeda plots disclosed by U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports who, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the killing could be carried out against a U.S. or foreign leader either in the United States or abroad.

The officials mentioned Saudi Arabia and Yemen, two nations that are working with the United States in the battle against al Qaeda, as likely locales for the opening assassination.

The planning for the attacks to follow involves "multiple targets in multiple venues" across the United States, one official said.

The new details of al Qaeda's plans were found on a laptop computer belonging to arrested al Qaeda operative Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan of Pakistan.

"We're talking about planning at the screwdriver level," one official said. "It is very detailed."

Khan was arrested July 13 in Lahore, Pakistan, along with Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian who was indicted in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa and was on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists.

U.S. and allied counterterrorism officials are pursuing leads on other terrorists based on the data from Khan's seized laptop. At least one arrest in Britain has been made so far, and others are expected, the officials said.

Additionally, U.S. intelligence officials said they think that several al Qaeda terrorists already in the United States are part of the plot, although their identities and locations are not known.

The targets, in addition to the financial institutions in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J., that have been the subject of public warnings, include such economic-related targets as oil and gas facilities with a view toward disrupting the November election.

"The goal of the next attack is twofold: to damage the U.S. economy and to undermine the U.S. election," the official said. "The view of al Qaeda is 'anybody but Bush.' "

The officials also said the terrorist group has begun using female members for preattack surveillance and possibly as suicide bombers, thinking that women will have an easier time getting past security checkpoints at airports, borders and ports.

The al Qaeda attack plans call for bombings using trucks and cars, and hijacked aircraft, including commercial airliners and helicopters.

"There is a particular concern that chemical trucks will be used," one official said.

Regarding the new bin Laden message, the officials said there are intelligence reports, some of them sketchy, that a new tape from the al Qaeda leader will surface soon.

In the past, video and audio messages by bin Laden or his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were broadcast days or weeks before an attack, the officials said.

"The message likely will be the signal for the attack to be launched," one official said.

A second U.S. official said one intelligence agency was aware of unconfirmed reports of a new bin Laden tape.

"There may be such a tape, but it hasn't surfaced and we haven't seen it," this official said.

Bin Laden last released a taped message in April. The CIA said that the audiotape probably was the voice of bin Laden and that the mention of the March 11 Madrid train bombings shows that the tape was current.

That tape offered a "truce" for any European state that pledged to stop attacking Muslims and end cooperation with the United States.

Contrary to what some Democratic critics of the Bush administration have said, intelligence officials said the new details of al Qaeda planning were obtained from the Khan laptop. The terrorist group was in the process of updating older attack plans, the officials said.

On Aug. 2, the Bush administration raised the terrorism threat level from "elevated" to "high" for five finance-related sites in the District, New York and New Jersey, based on the intelligence in Khan's computer, as well as other intelligence.

Frances Townsend, a White House homeland-security adviser, said Sunday that the government has received a steady "stream" of intelligence indicating that an al Qaeda attack is planned.

"What we know now that we didn't know six months ago is that they've done a good deal of planning and surveillance work to accomplish that goal," she said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

http://news.google.com/news?num=30&hl=en&edition=us&q=cluster:www%2etodayonline%2ecom%2farticles%2f23718%2easp

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THE NYC alerts, Las Vegas and this-----Speculation and election year nonsense creted by the GOP and Karl Rove to keep Americans in fear and take the attention away from Kerry

A DELUGE OF DOTS

By PETER BROOKES

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Print Reprint

August 9, 2004 -- RECENT terrorism-related arrests in America, Britain and Pakistan make a mockery of claims that the Bush administration raised the terror alert to "high" for crass political reasons.

Undoubtedly, a lot of the heckling about the White House's supposed political motivations is itself politically-motivated. . .

The critics of raising the alert are right on one account:

Politics should have no place in determining our nation's response to terrorism — or any security threat for that matter.

But recent events at home and abroad scream that the threat is here and now. Increased vigilance is a necessity. Especially as we move into the height of the political season, when the likelihood of another attack soars. (Think: Spain in March 2004.)

Last Thursday, FBI agents arrested two Muslims just up the Hudson River in Albany. The elaborate, yearlong sting operation featured an attempt to launder $50,000 to buy a Chinese RPG-7 shoulder-fired missile to kill the Pakistan's U.N. ambassador. But at least one of the suspects appears to be involved in far larger terrorist operations as well.

The name, Albany address and phone number of Yassin Aref were found in a notebook left behind in an Iraqi training camp vacated by Ansar al Islam, an al Qaeda-associated terrorist group. Aref's nickname in the notebook? "The Commander."

(Aref may be a bud of Abu Musab al Zarqawi — Iraq's current top terrorist killer and an Ansar al Islam alum.)

In Britain last week, a key al Qaeda cell was dismantled. The 12-man cell included al Qaeda biggie Abu Eisa al Hindi, suspected of doing the casings (along with two other al Qaeda ops) that lit off last week's terror alerts in the United States.

Fluent in English, Arabic and Urdu, Hindi is believed to have visited the Big Apple at the direction of Osama bin Laden and written the surveillance reports (in English) detailing security, engineering and other features of three of the five financial buildings cased by al Qaeda spooks. He likely checked out the N.Y. Stock Exchange, and the Citigroup (Manhattan) and Prudential buildings (Newark, N.J.) for their suitability for a terrorist hit.

And in Pakistan last month, maps, digital snaps and other info on possible targets in America and Britain were found on computers belonging to two al Qaeda operatives. One of the terror thugs, Mussad Aruchi, told interrogators that he "was sure that al Qaeda would hit New York or Washington pretty soon."

Other intelligence streams have indicated that terrorist operations against the homeland are already in motion, including plans to pop us between Sept. 1 and the November elections.

Ignoring these intelligence "dots" would be nothing less than inviting disaster. Nevertheless, lots of folks question the warnings, bristling against more jersey barriers and long security screenings.

As Americans, we have a birthright to be skeptical about government actions — and we should exercise this right. (No doubt that past intelligence failures, warm weather and a hotly-contested horserace for the White House only fuel the sense of unease, frustration and cynicism.)

But that's why it's also incumbent upon the government to reduce these doubts to the maximum extent possible. Despite making a solid effort, the administration can still do a better job of reducing the fit of chin-stroking and brow-furrowing surrounding the elevated terrorist threat level, especially outside New York City and Washington, D.C.

As long as it doesn't pull the rug out from under ongoing intelligence operations or legal proceedings, the government should be as direct as possible with the American people. Getting the word out on the policy is as important as the policy itself.

And there is no place for politics in national security. Secretary Tom Ridge got it right when he said recently, "We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security."

If this country is to remain safe, it can't be any other way.

Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow.

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