Skip to comments.US told Saudis about Qaeda plane threat pre-9/11
Posted on 12/09/2005 9:30:01 AM PST by blogblogginaway
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States told Saudi Arabia more than three years before the September 11 attacks that Osama bin Laden might be targeting civilian airplanes, according to a newly declassified State Department cable.
The June 1998 cable, obtained by George Washington University's National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, said the United States had no specific information that al Qaeda was planning such an attack, and did not say it might fly planes into buildings.
A copy of the cable, first reported by The New York Times on Friday, was obtained by Reuters. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were Saudi nationals.
The cable, from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh to U.S. government officials, said concerns were based on threats bin Laden had recently made against military aircraft in an interview with U.S. network ABC.
"We could not rule out that a terrorist might take the course of least resistance and turn to a civilian target," the cable said, noting bin Laden had said his group did not differentiate between civilians and the military.
The cable said three U.S. officials had met with Saudi officials at Riyadh's King Khaled International Airport on June 16, 1998, "to discuss the Osama bin Laden threat, and press for enhanced vigilance by Saudi security screeners and police patrols around the airport."
"We noted that while we have no specific information that indicates bin Laden is targeting civilian aircraft, he made a threat during the June 11 ABC News interview against 'military passenger aircraft' in the next 'few weeks,'" the cable said.
The cable is the latest of several signs made public that U.S. officials had concerns, long before the 2001 hijacked airplane attacks on New York and Washington, that al Qaeda might be targeting aircraft.
Others include a highly classified President's Daily Brief report to former President Bill Clinton dated December 4, 1998, which was titled "Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks."
The CIA has also said it had told the Federal Aviation Administration in 1999 that "Osama bin Laden remains interested in targeting U.S. interests including on U.S. territory. He is well prepared to consider kidnappings and hijackings as well as bombings."
On August 6, 2001, President George W. Bush's daily intelligence brief said the FBI had detected "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."
It did not warn of an airplane attack on buildings, but said the FBI was conducting about 70 investigations throughout the United States that it considered were related to bin Laden.
This is as specific as the briefing Bush received in August 2001 that the press insisted was the smoking gun proving Bush failed to prevent 9-11. Will they blame Clinton for not taking action to capture Bin Laden now?
Whoa! Terrorists were targeting civilian airliners?? Shocking.
Bush didn't lie??? /Sarc
I do not recall the 9/11 Commission making mention of this, did I miss it?
And how many times did slick turn down a chance to take bin laden?
So Clinton, Not-so-bright and Burglar-man knew.
Memo must have fallen out of Sandy Burglar's socks.
Gee, did the diseased looking Richard Clarke forget about this?
Could he apologize to me, the rest of America, and all the good people he slandered, for the fact he and his boss were incompetent?
I think we found some more of Clintoon's legacy.
Maybe Clinton would have seen that memo if someone had taped it to the top of Monica's head.
LOL! But didn't you mean into Sandy Burglar's socks?
So, did the Gorelick Wall go up after Clinton was informed?
Thanks for a great chuckle!
Clinton to MSM:
Something else the MSM will never get out to the world.
Everybody gets three guesses and, two of them don't count.
I fully expect to see the MSM in wild paroxysms of outrage over the revelation that the Clinton administration had years of warnings about the potential threats Al Qaeda posed to civilian airliners. Those objective, hard-working MSM reporters will be all over this story, because they thought that the PDB of Aug. 6, 2001 should have put President Bush and than nation on red alert for hijacking threats, so we can be certain that the MSM will realize that 3+ years of similar knowledge should have allowed ample opportunity for the Clintonistas to act. I'm sure that we will soon see Richard Clarke, Joe Wilson, Wesley Clark, et al giving interviews to declare that Bill Clinton and Algore ignored these threats for years and bear a heavy responsibility for the weak security stance we displayed on 9/11.
Actually, it may be that the best chance of getting Bill Clinton's attention would have been to have Monica pass warnings from the CIA directly to the C-in-C.........