New wave of assaults may hit oil refineries : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

New wave of assaults may hit oil refineries

By Paul McGeough in New York

Despite the loss of 19 operatives in the crash of four aircraft used as missiles in last Tuesday's attacks, investigators warn that enough of the terrorist network could still exist to strike again.

In background briefings to reporters and politicians, intelligence, military and law enforcement officers have created a disturbing sense of what, in this country, is called a "clear and present danger".

The Los Angeles Times quoted a source as saying: "There could be up to 30 other targets and I would think that that would be national; you just have to assume there are going to be other targets."

And a source described by The Washington Post as a counter-terrorism expert with ties to the Bush Administration said: "[The network] may now go after different targets, such as oil refineries, which are simpler to attack."

Others were quoted as suggesting that associates who had undertaken flight training with the 19 who died were still at large and there was evidence that airports at Atlanta and Los Angeles might already have been selected as targets for a different kind of attack - a truck bomb or some other explosive device.

There have been warnings of

a second round of attacks that could come soon, or that might be delayed until after the inevitable retaliatory strike by the US on Osama bin Laden, the Afghanistan-based terrorist whom President George Bush has named as his prime suspect.

There also was a suggestion, attributed to Administration officials who closely monitor bin Laden, that a future attack could involve weapons of mass destruction because satellite pictures of dead animals at one of bin Laden's training camps had been interpreted as proof that he had experimented with poisons.

Added to this was evidence at the court hearing on charges emanating from the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in Africa that his group had tried to buy chemical weapons and nuclear components in the 1990s.

The investigation into last Tuesday's attacks is trying to trace more than 100 people who are believed to have been associates of the 19 men who died.

One person has been arrested as a "material witness" - he is said to have a detailed knowledge of the crime but may not have been directly involved and has been arrested to stop him fleeing. Described as "an associate of Osama bin Laden's brother", he was arrested boarding a flight at New York's JFK Airport with a fake pilot's licence in his possession.

An official spokesman said that a warrant for another such arrest had been issued.

But it was unclear if this was in connection with either of two men - Ayub Ali Khan, 51, and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, 47 - who were seized on an Amtrak train at Fort Worth, Texas. They had box-cutters, hair dye and "a lot of cash" in their possession.

The Justice Department has released details of the 19 passengers from the death flights who they have concluded were terrorists. All were males with Middle Eastern names and most were in their early 20s; they travelled on Saudi Arabian passports; they had entered the US on visas issued in Saudi Arabia; and they were clean-shaven and of Western appearance.

It has emerged that two of the dead men, Khalid al-Midhar and Salim al-Mahzi, were known to authorities because they had been captured on surveillance film in Malaysia, meeting a man who was a suspect in the attack last year on USS Cole in Yemen.

Seven of the 19 were pilots and another had abandoned his pilot training course in Florida.

The group had lived across the country - in Florida, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Arizona.

The picture emerging of the bin Laden organisation is a network of small cells that have little to do with each other and that are kept ignorant of each other's activities for security reasons.

Some of its members had studied in the US for four years or had been here for more than two years, taking long-term leases on their homes.

They made $A100,000 worth of flight reservations on the Internet, using frequent flyer numbers and electronic (paperless) tickets.

Their use of the Internet has prompted the FBI to serve warrants on America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The investigators say they are worried by the presence in the US of many known terrorist groups, some thought to be linked to bin Laden.

And the more they learn about the planning that preceded last week's attacks, the more convinced they are that the plot was directed by bin Laden.

All the hallmarks of his earlier known work were present:

A cohesive and compartmentalised structure of small front-line cells backed by a bigger network on the ground.

Good organisation - money, weapons, accommodation, identity papers and jobs.

The use of "sleepers" - operatives positioned to lie low as residents of the US for years in advance of the attacks.

Advance surveillance. Court evidence had revealed months or years of monitoring, planning and testing ahead of exercises such as the bombing of the African embassies.

The FBI said it had received more than 36,000 tip-offs in connection with the attacks.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 16, 2001


Interesting find, Martin. This gem especially caught my eye:

They made $A100,000 worth of flight reservations on the Internet, using frequent flyer numbers and electronic (paperless) tickets.

Members of an aviation safety discussion board have been wondering why the hijacked airplanes were so comparatively empty of passengers and one of them had assumed the hijackers must have bought-up tickets en masse. This morning I saw an article about a woman whose friends were supposed to have been travelling with her but couldn't because all of the seats were sold! Yet, none of the airplanes were, in fact, full. This quotation explains it.

-- Rachel Gibson (, September 16, 2001.

Great observation, Rachael.

-- JackW (, September 17, 2001.

Rachel, that point about air seats is fascinating...sort of undercuts my thoughts in a different GICC thread that the low passenger count was due to slower economy and the (prior to Tuesday) dramatic drop in business travel. Perhaps both were at work to keep the number of passengers as low as it was.

-- Andre Weltman (, September 17, 2001.

That is about USD50,000, or about $2500 per ticket. What is the current price of coast-to-coast first class?

-- Joe (, September 17, 2001.

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