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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Evidence of Possible Al Qaeda attack on the US

August 8, 2004
An FBI official warned a congressional leader that he and other top legislative officials could be targeted by al-Qaeda in Washington or on their trips around the country, TIME has learned. The warning came two days before Ridge issued his nationwide alert. ...

Assessing the accumulation of evidence of a possible attack inside the U.S., a senior intelligence official tells TIME, “This is looking more like the real deal every day.” TIME also learns that Osama bin Laden may already have ordered up another attack: a top homeland security official tells TIME “We have a number of times picked up information that al-Qaeda wants to attack us before the election, and some of the communications attribute that desire to Osama bin Laden.” ...

Operatives specifically discuss using “usual methods” such as a heavy gas truck or oil tanker to attack facilities. Surveillance of helicopter ports and cockpits in New York City suggest al-Qaeda has investigated using them for an airborne attack.

A U.S. law-enforcement official told TIME that a recent Pakistani intelligence report made available to senior U.S. intelligence and security officials offers details of alleged al-Qaeda plans to use speedboats and divers for attacks in New York harbor before the November 2004 elections.

TIME has learned that one seized disc contains an updated photo of the Prudential Building in Newark, New Jersey that was added in January of this year. Operatives noted it might be difficult to drive a truck or van into the Prudential’s underground parking garage. So they proposed acquiring a black limo, gutting all but the front seat and presumably filling the empty portion with explosives, TIME reports. They also discussed using an oil truck to ram through the front entrance. Information on New Jersey Transit passenger rail systems and PATH train timetables suggested al-Qaeda may have been exploring ways to escape after pulling off the attack, TIME reports.

A senior U.S. intelligence official tells TIME that the three laptop computers and 51 discs seized in a July 24 raid in Pakistan represent an unprecedented “treasure trove” of information about al-Qaeda’s determination to pull off more acts of catastrophe on U.S. soil. “The discs revealed far more detailed, wide-ranging and current research” than has been made public, a source tells TIME. A senior law-enforcement force tells TIME the FBI is pursuing information from computer files that may lead to al-Qaeda members in the U.S. Perhaps a half-dozen individuals are believed to have been in contact with at least one of three men apprehended in Pakistan. FR Reprint.

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