The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on September 18, 2002 · Page 9
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 9

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
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WAR ON TERRORISM WEDNESDAY • SEPTEMBER 18,2002 • THE HAYS DAILY NEWS A9 Panel explores what agencies knew before Sept. 11 By KEN GUGGENHEIM ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence agencies had many warnings of possible attacks against the United States before the Sept. 11 hijackings but apparently no details about what terrorists had planned for that day, a congressional official said. Congressional investigators were presenting some preliminary findings today af the first House and Senate intelligence committees public hearings on intelligence failures in the days preceding the attacks. The committees have been meeting behind closed doors since June. After reviewing 400,000 documents, congressional investigators have not found that intelligence agencies had information about "where, when and how the attack was going to take place," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity The official said agencies had a surge of intelligence, peaking in June 2001, about possible attacks. Most of the information suggested the attacks would occur overseas. But the inquiry questions whether Americans were given enough information about the possibility of terror attacks in the United States. The inquiry's preliminary findings offer no conclusions about whether intelligence agencies should have been able to have prevented the attacks, based on the information in hand. "I don't think you'll find a smoking gun," said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., a member of the Senate panel. "I think you'll find things that should have been done better and in the future must be done better." The top Republican on the Senate panel, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, said some of the most troubling information seen by the committees already have been made public: the so-called Phoenix memo, in which an FBI agent warned that U.S. flight schools might be training terrorist pilots, and the handling of the Zacarias Moussaoui case. Moussaoui was arrested in August 2001 after he raised suspicions when he sought training at a Minnesota flight school. He has since been charged with conspiring in the attacks. "Those two events alone could have changed Sept. 11. Would it have? We don't know," Shelby said. Both Shelby and Sen. Bob Graham, D- Fla., chairman of the committee, complained today that the Bush administration has not been cooperating with their investigation. "What we are trying to do is get people who had hands on these issues," Graham said on NBC's "Today" program, "... and what we're being told is no, they don't want to make those kinds of witnesses available. "We can only talk to the top of the pyramid," Graham said. "Well, the problem is, the top of the pyramid has a general awareness of what's going on in the organization, but if you want to know why Malaysian plotters were not put on a watch list ... you've to talk to somebody at the level where those kinds of decisions were made." The hearings are believed to mark the first time that standing committees from both houses of Congress have sat together for an investigation. Because House and Senate committees follow different rules in staging hearings, special procedures had to be adopted. The committees' leaders, Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, R- Fla., will alternate as chairman. The Bush administration has looked to the intelligence inquiry to produce the definitive report on problems leading up to the attack. Committee members say they have become frustrated by delays, blamed on both the difficulties of declassifying information for public hearings and what they see as lack of cooperation by the administration. Public hearings were to have begun in June. Delayed repeatedly, none has been scheduled beyond today's. Congressional staff have said the administration has been reluctant to provide high-level officials as witnesses, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. With just weeks left in the congressional year, momentum has grown in Congress for a separate, independent commission to look into the attacks. "I'm afraid if we try to publish at the end of this session a definitive paper on what we found, that there will be some things that we don't know because we hadn't had time to probe them and we have not had enough cooperation," Shelby said. The White House has opposed an independent commission, saying it could lead to more leaks and tie up personnel needed to fight terrorism. Relatives of Sept. 11 victims have been among the main advocates of the independent commission. Leaders of two groups of relatives, Stephen Push and Kristin Breitweiser, whose spouses were killed in the attacks, were scheduled to be the first witnesses at today's hearing. i i Doctor al-Zawahiri was guiding force behind bin Laden militancy By GEORGE GEDDA ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — As a young man, Ayman al-Zawahiri was one of many young, well-educated Egyptians who was attracted to messianic Islam. A doctor, he was appalled by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and spent two tours of duty tending to victims of the conflict. But he saw the Soviets as nothing more than an ephemeral enemy. Afghanistan, he believed in 1981, was a mere training course for the Muslim Muja- hadeen "to wage their awaited battle against the superpower that now has the sole dominance over the globe, namely, the United States." It was a turning point for Za- wahiri when, during his service on behalf of the Afghan resistance, he met a Saudi, six years his junior, who had the same political outlook. His name was Osama bin Laden. As reported by Lawrence Wright in the current issue of The New vYorker,. magazine,. Zarj. w . . w. »>s »»^sw •-•; i. SSM. ,-,,?iif led wahiri was a guiding -force- in makirjg the most of bin Laden's militancy and money on behalf of Islam. Wright suggests that bin Laden might never have become a terrorist mastermind it not for Za- wahiri, a figure virtually unknown in the West outside of intelligence and law enforcement circles. For Americans, Sept. 11 might be just another day on the calendar were it not for the encouragement and political skills Zawahiri passed on to his al-Qaida colleague. The two were affiliated with Analysis different militant groups over the years but often found themselves together on the same turf, including Sudan and Saudi Arabia. They did not forge a formal alliance until Feb. 23, 1998, becoming part of a new International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders. The founding document said the killing of Americans and their allies — civilian and military — is an "individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it." By that standard, bin Laden has been fulfilling his duty. He is wanted by U.S. law enforcement for the near simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. Zawahiri was involved as well, Wright reports, saying there was a link between the bombings and the purported CIA breakup, of an could go through as a suicide bomber. After the bombings, Wright said, American intelligence concluded that Zawahiri was an equal partner in al-Qaida with bin Laden. They also believed that Za- wahiri was in charge of al-Qai- da's Yemen cell when the USS Cole was bombed at the port of Aden on Oct. 12,2000. As Wright describes it, Za- wahiri's scientific background might have been the catalyst for al-Qaida's interest in developing chemical and biological weapons. On Sept. 11, 2001, Wright reports, Zawahiri, and bin Laden were in the Afghan city of Kanda- har, a Taliban stronghold. They left their quarters there and fled to the mountains where they listened to an Arabic radio station's news flashes about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Afterward, on an unspecified date, bin Laden and Zawahiri appear together on a videotape and are seen talking aboutthe Sept. 11 L earlier." '"^ ,./. On Aug. 6^1,998 v Zawahir,i s^ent,, a declaration to a Condo'ii-tiased' Arabic newspaper: "We are interested in briefly telling the Americans that their messages has been received and that the response, which we hope they will read carefully, is being prepared." The embassy bombings occurred the next day. More than 200 people died and more than 5,000 were injured. Wright also was told that bin Laden reviewed photographs of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and suggested a spot where a truck •••- Zawahiri•sayspTms'great vi(g to£y jyas possible only by the "grace of God. This was not just a human achievement. It was a holy act. These 19 men (suicide bombers) who gave their lives for the cause of God will be well taken care of." Wright says this might have been Zawahiri's last public statement. He speculates that Za- wahiri might have died in the American military campaign that began in Afghanistan three weeks after Sept. 11. George Gedda has covered foreign affairs for The Associated Press since 1968. Watch our campaign grow! LOOK for the UNITED WAY thermometers at Midwest Energy 133O Canterberry FHSU E. 8th Street Sunflower Bank 1O1O E. 27th Hays Public Library 13th & Main Special thanks to: Commercial Builders and Midwest Energy, Inc. and their employees Tommy Williams, Harry Dorzweiler and De Sultzer who erected the signs* United Way of Ellis County 718 Main, Suite 20$ P.O. Box 367 ; . (785) 628-8281 www.unitedwayofelliscounty.oig U.S. readies troops for Yemen WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. special forces and the CIA are preparing to move against al-Qaida elements believed hiding in the region around the Horn of Africa, possibly sending troops to capture fighters in Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland of Yemen, officials said today. Eight hundred U.S. special forces have been moved to Djibouti, the tiny African nation facing Yemen, defense officials said. The amphibious assault ship Bellieu Wood also is sailing in waters between Yemen and Africa and could be used as a platform for troops throughout the region, one official said. The deployments are aimed at positioning people and equipment for any mission in the region, the U.S. Central Command said. Officials declined to say whether an operation in Yemen or elsewhere in the region was imminent. The Associated Press reported over the weekend that the Bush administration was working to step up anti-terror efforts in Yemen, believed a longtime base for some suspected al-Qaida and a sanctuary for others who fled the war in Afghanistan. It also was in Yemen that 17 American sailors were killed when the USS Cole was bombed as it refueled in 2000 in the port of Aden. The CIA, which has its own paramilitary units, is in charge of the possible mission in Yemen, officials said. But a Pentagon team has been in the Middle Eastern country, also planning ways to help the Yemeni government go after suspected terrorists. It was unclear whether the Yemenis would agree to the use of U.S. forces in their country, where anti- American Muslim militants have staged a number of bombings to try to derail the war on terror and militias in remote tribal areas challenge central authority But forces at the ready in Djibouti include the secret Delta group that specializes in hunting and snatching suspects from other country's territory, ABC News reported Tuesday night. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in the summer asked commanders to look at ways to push the hunt for al-Qaida beyond Afghanistan, possibly through greater use of special forces commandos. Special forces played a lead role in the war in Afghanistan and were sent to Pakistan to help find al- Qaida figures who fled over the border. Rumsfeld is considering giving the Special Operation Command expanded control and responsibilities in the global war on terror. In Yemen, little visible progress against terrorists has been made, although the CIA has offered intelligence. The FBI turned over a list in February of al-Qaida network suspects believed to be in Yemen. FALL FASHIONS MISSY KNIT SEPARATES YOUR CHOICE SUSAN LAWRENCE & TAKE TWO SEPARATES HUGE SELECTION LOUNGE DRESSES YOUR CHOICE Reg. to 42.00 Great selection of Prints & Styles Reg. to 40.00 Asst. Tops & Skirts PLUS SIZES 16.99 Reg. to 44.00 Reg. to 34.00 Choose from Tops and Pants The Mall Hays

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