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Threat of New Attack Bigger Than 911

U.S. intelligence agencies say, "There has been an increased level of [al Qaeda] chatter and activity," meaning another terrorist attack could be in the works. A government official says the volume of communications among suspected al Qaeda operatives "has definitely picked up in the last month or so" and characterized them as "troubling" and causing a "heightened level of concern." Both the volume and pattern of the communications are similar to those of messages intercepted in the months before the September 11 attacks. There are threats that the new attack will be bigger than the 911 terrorist attacks. The U.S. has warned about possible attacks in high-rise apartment buildings. A few months ago, there were warnings about major bridges, then nuclear power plants, but nothing can come of any of this so far.

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Al-Qaeda says it carried out last month's attack on a Tunisian synagogue that killed 19 people and will soon strike at the United States, according to an Arab newspaper. The London-based Asharq al-Awsat interviewed Abdel Azeem al-Muhajir, a "senior military leader" of al-Qaeda, in the western Pakistani mountains near the border with Afghanistan.

Al-Muhajir told the paper that the April 11 truck-bombing of the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba "was carried out by brothers in the al-Qaeda network." Fourteen of the 19 victims were German tourists.

A U.S. intelligence official says, "Al-Qaeda has made no secret of its desire to continue to attack" the United States. White House spokeswoman Anne Womack says, ??We're well aware that they're continuing to try to plan and carry out attacks against the United States and members of the coalition."

"News in the coming days will show the continuity, firmness, and determination of this (al-Qaeda) group to develop itself," Al-Muhajir says. He was quoted as saying al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters have come a long way in their training for a "soon-expected fight with appropriate arms." The word ?appropriate? may refer to ?dirty? bombs made with stolen or blackmarket nuclear materials.

Al-Muhajir says both bin Laden and Mullah Omar are in good health, "contrary to what is propagated by American and Americanized media." A video of bin Laden has just been released which was supposedly recorded in March. In it, bin Laden says that anyone who supports Israel is an enemy of al-Qaeda.

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Vice President Dick Cheney says that a new attack on the United States is "almost certain" as U.S. intelligence officials picked up signals that a fresh strike could be in the works. Speaking in two television interviews, Cheney said, "In my opinion the prospects of a future attack against the United States are almost certain. It's not a matter of if, but when."

Cheney admits the U.S. government had failed to anticipate the September 11 attacks, and says, "There's no question but what there were failures. We obviously did not know what was about to happen. We were unable to prevent it." He says the government did not adequately coordinate information from its intelligence services and its domestic law enforcement agencies.

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NBC News reports that only two days before September 11, George Bush was given a "detailed war plan" to dismantle Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Citing "U.S. and foreign sources," NBC says Bush was given national security plans to use methods ranging from diplomacy to military power against the terrorists. The plan was "pretty much" the same one the administration followed after the attacks, and included asking other countries to cooperate and share intelligence, and the freezing of al Qaeda bank accounts and money laundering operations. The NBC report says Bush did not have a chance to sign the directive before the 911 highjackings.

John Gannon, who served as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, says, "It (hijacking) was one of the things we put in the long menu of options that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups had. When I left I think I was most worried about the biological threat." U.S. intelligence agencies were concerned that bin Laden was developing biological and chemical weapons and also threatening to disrupt computer networks. "We were also telling the president about broader threats to space systems that adversaries and terrorist groups could potentially shoot down satellites with laser technology," Gannon says.

The government was worried about the capabilities of North Korea, Iraq, and Iran to develop missiles that could be deployed against the United States. "We also told (Bush) that he should be worried about the nonconventional launch of weapons of mass destruction from trains, boats, planes," Gannon says. "When I left, I could not, I did not have the intelligence to predict which one of these things they would do, but I was most worried about biological, maybe chemical and nuclear as an option in the future."

Former CIA Director Robert Gates says, "The problem with these terrorism warnings, and it's characteristic of them from 20 years ago to the present, is that most of the time what you get is a report that somebody is planning something, and that they might be using this or that technique, but there is no time, there is no place, there is no specificity at all that would give you something to protect against." Also, there was no coordination between the CIA and FBI on information they had separately gathered on potential threats before September 11.

"It's a little bit like Pearl Harbor, something could have been done if (the information) had been pooled together in one place," former CIA Director James Woolsey says. "Often intelligence is not specific as to a time and place something is going to happen. It's a matter of pulling things together from different locations."

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Sen. Richard Shelby, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has charged that the FBI "was either asleep or inept, or both," for failing to act on a July 2001 memo from the agency's Phoenix office about Arabs seeking U.S. flight training.

Amid charges and counter-charges from Democrats and Republicans about dropping the ball on 911, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon says it?s a misuse of the trust that Congress and the public put in the administration after Sept. 11 "to call anybody irresponsible who asks tough questions about what sure looks like an intelligence failure."

New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton says, "The point is not to point fingers or place blame but to be sure we have learned and we are better prepared."

See news story, ?U.S. Can?t Avoid More Terrorist Attacks?, click here.

How can we find out what?s going on when the media is being censored by big government and big business? Learn all about it by reading ?Into the Buzzsaw? by Kristina Borjesson,click here.

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