The declassified briefing has been released for public consumption: ------------------- Declassified and Approved for Release, 10 April 2004 Bin ladin Determined To Strike in US Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi YouseF and "bring the fighting to America." After us missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a (blacked out) service. An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told (blacked out) service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike. The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilltate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was plannfng his own US attack. Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation. Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and Is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997. Al-Qa'ida members-including same who are US citizens-have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qaida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s. A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks. We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a (blacked out) service in1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd aI-Rahman and other US-held extremists. Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. 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. Declassified and Approved For the President Only 6 August 2001 ------------------------------ Okay, Bush-haters. Based on this document you've been salivating for and were convinced contained the "smoking gun" that would implicate Bush for not preventing 9/11, please illuminate for us what should have been done. Based on an uncorroborated report from 1998 and "suspicious activity consistent with hijackings or other types of attacks....," and having been informed that the FBI is conducting 70 full field investigations that are related to bin-Laden, should Bush have shut down all the airports nationwide? And for how long? Furthermore, do you actually believe that back then the public - and their political representatives - would have supported increased airport security based on very vague intelligence? To look for box cutters? Of course not. And when nothing happened as a result of shutting down the airports, costing billions of dollars, you would angrily charge that he was overreacting. The very ones of you screaming for his head now for supposedly not doing enough to prevent 9/11 would have been screaming for his head back then for allowing mere uncorroborated terrorist threats to cripple our economy. Wake up. Our country was not at war on the dawn of 9/11, Islamic terrorism was not taken seriously enough by several administrations, and the political will to aggressively fight terrorism did not exist at the time. The only ones responsible for 9/11 were the hijackers themselves, Bin Laden, al-Qaida, and its network of financiers and supporters. No smoking gun here, but better luck next time.