Memo contradicts Rice on al-Qaida threat

The White House has released a classified intelligence document that warned of a possible al-Qaida strike inside the United States a month before the September 11 attacks.

    The document shows President Bush had been warned of attacks

    The document titled Bin Ladin Determined to Strike Inside the United States was de-classified on Saturday amid an escalating row over whether the Bush administration had received any prior warnings about the attacks and if they had been ignored.

    National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice insisted in her public testimony to the 9/11 commission last week that the document relating to the 6 August 2001 presidential briefing contained mostly historical information and did not warn of any coming attacks.

    Contradictory

    But the page-and-a-half memo contradicts Rice, revealing that President George Bush had been warned of an al-Qaida plan to attack the US.

    The report said it had not been able to corroborate some of the "more sensational threat reporting" such as a report in 1998 that bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of those responsible for the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Centre.

    The page-and-a-half memo contradicts Rice, revealing that President George Bush had been warned of al-Qaida planning to attack US

    "The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives," the documents said.

    Unspecific

    The document gave neither a time nor a suspected target for such an attack.

    But the document's contents are nevertheless damning for the Bush administration and could further dent its credibility.

    Contrary to Rice's claim that the memo contained only historical intelligence, the warning in the document was based on a May 2001 intelligence report that suggested bin Ladin followers wanted to cross from Canada into the US.

    It said bin Ladin had implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that he would "bring the fighting to America."

    "Clandestine, foreign government and media reports indicate bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US," the document further said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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