During the last 5 years, we warned our allies in the Middle East about several al-Qaeda plots of suicide attacks in Egypt, Israel and Turkey. “In October 1996, the intelligence community obtained information regarding an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv,” says Eleanor Hill, of the U.S. Intelligence Committee. “An individual would board the plane in the Far East. During the flight he would commandeer the aircraft, order it to fly over Tel Aviv, and then crash the plane into the city.” These plots were either foiled, or the CIA later decided they were disinformation.
In November 1998, U.S. intelligence obtained information that an Islamic group based in Turkey planned to crash an airplane packed with explosives into a crowd full of Turkish leaders and officials who would be attending a government ceremony. Three months later, in February 1999, they got information that Iraq had formed a suicide pilot unit for attacks against British and U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. In March 1999, they received information that al-Qaeda would send a U.S. national to attack Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who would fly a hang glider into the presidential palace and detonate a bomb he would be carrying, but the plot was abandoned. Hill says, “The individual who received hang glider training in the United States brought the hang glider back to Afghanistan.”
Our allies also warned us. Former Saudi intelligence chief Turki Al Faisal says the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been sharing information on Osama bin-Laden since 1997. He says, “As director of general intelligence, I had for some time regarded Osama Bin Laden as a key intelligence target. At the instruction of the senior Saudi leadership, I shared all the intelligence we had collected on bin-Laden and al-Qaeda with the CIA.?
The two intelligence agencies worked together against a range of insurgency groups in the 1970s and 1980s, including Palestinian organizations. Turki says, “We shared information on Abu Nidal and the various Palestinian groups, as well as the Red Brigades in Italy, the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany, the Japanese Red Army and many others that threatened U.S.-Saudi interests.” He says Saudi Arabia and the U.S. often disagreed on Middle East issues.
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