First WTC Bomber Carried plans for airliner suicide crashes

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First WTC Bomber Carried plans for airliner suicide crashes
Sun Sep 16 22:58:01 2001

Ramzi Yusef, architect of first World Trade Center bombing,
carried plans for airliner suicide crashes

Special to World
Saturday, September 15, 2001

Ramzi Ahmed Yusef has long been behind bars. But he might provide the key
for federal investigators examining the suicide attacks in New York and

U.S. officials said the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
bear the imprint of Yusef, the 41-year-old Pakistani who was convicted for the
1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Yusef was arrested and found with
plans for a coordinated series of hijackings and suicide crashes of several U.S.
commercial airliners.

The plan was never carried out, the officials said, because of the limitations of
the poorly-trained squad. Most of Yusef's plans, including the 1993 World
Trade Center attack, failed to succeed.

"What we saw was the completion of Yusef's plans," an official said. "The
resemblance is too strong to ignore."

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said each of the hijacked planes were
commandeered by three to six attackers. Several of the attackers were pilots
trained in the United States, Ashcroft said.

Federal investigation sources said one of the suspects is Mohammed Ata. Ata
was identified as a Palestinian wanted for a 1996 bus bombing in Israel.

One prospect is that Saudi billionaire fugitive Osama Bin Laden, together with
a Middle East government, revised Yusef's plans and launched preparation as
early as 1998. A senior German government official said the intelligence
services of Britain, France, Germany, and Israel have fingered Bin Laden as the
prime suspect.

"The way it was carried out, the choice of targets, the military approach, the
highly professional preparation and the presumably large financial resources
mean there are many points that indicate we should look for the perpetrators
among those around Osama Bin Laden," Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the chief of
staff of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said.

The officials said Yusef, sentenced in 1998 to 240 years in prison, will
probably undergo additional interrogation. In addition, they said, the huge pile
of documents found in his possession as well as intercepts of his conversations
will be reviewed.

One U.S. counterterrorism source acknowledged that the first FBI investigation
of Yusef was incomplete and much of the material from the first World Trade
Center bombing was either ignored or did not undergo proper analysis. The
source said even the translation of the Yusef material was an extremely slow

Yusef was regarded by U.S. counterterrorism officials as a key contractor for
Islamic terrorist attacks. They said he worked for such governments as Iran,
Iraq and Pakistan.

Born in Pakistan Abdul Karim Rind, Yusef grew up in Kuwait and began to
work with the Palestinian Hamas movement. Yusef was said to have built a
network that included Islamic militants in the United States, Europe and the

Initial support came from Pakistani intelligence and Saudi businessmen in
Karachi. But much of the financing was said to have stemmed from Saudi and
Arab Gulf nationals in such countries as Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab
Emirates. Later, Yusef obtained independent financing through arms trafficking
and selling his services to Middle East governments and Islamic movements.
Yusef based many of his agents along the Iranian-Afghan border.

The Bush administration has pledged to pursue the investigation of the
kamikaze bombings whatever the cost. U.S. officials said Pakistani leaders
have been urged to cooperate in the investigation.

"We're facing a different enemy than we've every faced," U.S. President
George Bush said. "This is an enemy that thinks its harbors are safe. But its
harbors won't be safe forever."

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