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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Terrorists held summit in March in Pakistan

August 16, 2004
It was a gathering of terrorism's elite, and they slipped silently into Pakistan from all over the world in order to attend. From England... an unknown hideout... Queens in New York City...

The March 2004 terrorist summit in the lawless province of Waziristan, described to TIME by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf last week and expounded on by U.S. officials, has become a subject of obsession for authorities in both countries. "The personalities involved, the operations, the fact that a major explosives expert came here and went back," Musharraf said, "all this was extremely significant."

Although some summit participants have been arrested, others are still at large and are considered very dangerous. At least two are believed to have done some of the surveillance of targets in New York City and elsewhere that authorities found out about last month. Some U.S. officials fear that the meeting may have been a pivotal planning session, much the way a 2000 meeting in Kuala Lumpur was for the 9/11 attacks. ... This, he said, has contributed to the worry that at least some members of a strike team are already in the U.S. ...

The terrorist who worries Washington most is el-Shukrijumah, 29, chiefly because he is still at large but also because he is practically homegrown. Born in Guyana and reared in Miramar, Fla., where his father, a Saudi-Yemeni cleric now deceased, preached hard-line Wahhabism at a small mosque, el-Shukrijumah took computer classes at Broward Community College in Florida. He holds Guyanese and Trinidadian passports, may also have Canadian and Saudi passports and can easily pass for Hispanic. "He speaks English and has the ability to fit in and look innocuous," says an FBI agent. ... FBI agents call el-Shukrijumah the next Atta—after Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian ringleader of the 9/11 attacks. ... FR Reprint.

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