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Terror plot linked to Bin Laden

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    Terror plot linked to Bin Laden

    Foiled Terror Plot on Tourists Linked to bin Laden Aide
    By JAMES RISEN - New York Times
    WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 -- Middle Eastern and American officials say they believe that a key lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile, coordinated a terrorist plot that was aimed at Western and Israeli tourists in Jordan in December.

    Officials said the man played a critical role in directing the operation from Pakistan, and fled to Afghanistan a day or two after the Jordanian authorities foiled the plot and arrested 13 people.

    American and Middle Eastern investigators say they believe that the suspect, Abu Zubaydah, was also in contact with Algerians who have been charged in a separate attempt to bomb unspecified targets in the United States in December. It is not clear whether Mr. Zubaydah played an active role in that plot, these officials say.

    But they say the emerging evidence about Mr. Zubaydah provides an important development in their effort to establish that Mr. bin Laden is a commanding figure in terrorist plots against the West.

    These investigators say they believe that Mr. bin Laden and his group were trying to land two blows at once against Western interests. Those attacks, they say, would have been their first large terrorist actions since the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, for which Mr. bin Laden has been indicted.

    Investigators began working on the theory that Mr. bin Laden was behind the alleged plots as soon as arrests were made in Jordan and the United States. They quickly discovered that some of those people held in Jordan had been trained in camps operated in Afghanistan by the Saudi exile.

    But investigators said the role of Mr. Zubaydah, from the Gaza Strip, is the most significant evidence to date that Mr. bin laden was directly behind the two operations. Mr. Zubaydah is a trusted member of Mr. bin Laden's inner circle, they said.

    Middle Eastern intelligence officials describe Mr. Zubaydah as the coordinator of Mr. bin Laden's "external operations," which they describe as the group's terrorist activities outside Afghanistan. Mr. bin Laden has been using Afghanistan as his base and as a haven from international efforts to bring him to court.

    Operating from Peshawar, Pakistan, Mr. Zubaydah was in charge of communications between Mr. bin Laden's organization in Afghanistan and terrorist cells around the world, investigators now suspect.

    On Dec. 15, the Jordanian authorities said they had arrested 13 members of a group planning attacks against an American hotel and three tourist sites frequented by Israelis and Westerners. Jordan may have been targeted because it is a pro-Western neighbor of Israel, but terrorists might also have seen it as easier to infiltrate than Israel.

    At the same time, a separate plot was unraveling along the United States-Canadian border. On Dec. 14, the authorities arrested an Algerian named Ahmed Ressam, whose car contained a military explosive and homemade detonators.

    Canadian authorities say Mr. Ressam, known by the nom de guerre Abu Reda, had received military training at camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Mr. Ressam's arrest has prompted an investigation by the American and Canadian authorities to determine whether the group was planning an attack in the United States.

    Federal prosecutors have so far charged four Algerians with taking part in the plot. While United States officials have speculated that the Canadian case is connected to Mr. bin Laden, they have publicly offered few specifics to support that linkage.

    The new information about Mr. Zubaydah is helping the authorities to develop a clearer picture.

    Abu Zubaydah is the alias of Mohammed Hussein Zein-al-Abideen. Born in 1973, he went to Afghanistan as a teenager, where he reportedly linked up with Mr. bin Laden.

    From Peshawar, on the Pakistani-Afghan border, Mr. Zubaydah has played a critical role in the development of Mr. bin Laden's international networks in the last two years, officials say.

    In Pakistan, they say, Mr. Zubaydah acted as gatekeeper for the Afghan training camps operated by Mr. bin Laden and his allies. Intelligence officials have been told that leaders of cells around the world would contact him to request training in Afghanistan for cell members. These people would then travel to Peshawar and meet Mr. Zubaydah, who would decide whether they would be given training and in which camps, according to these reports.

    In addition, officials say they have discovered that Mr. Zubaydah had a joint bank account in Peshawar with Khalil Deek.

    [This message has been edited by mohabbat (edited February 29, 2000).]

    Oh the poor Israelis and the Americans. They always have some beliefs. LOL

    Fata Morgana


      very funny.. fata... if someone could indeed get the 'humor' out of ur LOL, they could dig humor out of quantum mechanics books too, i believe.


        Yeah in Oklahoma bombing, instantly American authorities believed in Islamist terrorists. And they detained many Arab-looking people on some Western airports. Later, it turned out to be an ex-US mariner's handy work. LOL. Talk facts, and not fictions.

        Fata Morgana