President’s Aug. 6, 2001 Briefing
The White House released the document on April 10, 2004. Material blacked out upon its release is indicated by ‘X.’
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Osama bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Centre bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”
After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington according to a XXXXXX service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an XXXXXX service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S..
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 facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.
Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.
Although bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks.
Bin Laden 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-Qaida members – including some who are U.S. citizens – have resided in or traveled to the U.S. 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 U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1900s.
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden 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 XXXXXX service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman and other U.S.-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 U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related.
CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.