Trail of a Terrorist

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According to law enforcement officials, Ahmed Ressam's Los Angeles bomb plot, timed to the millennium, was not the only Al Qaeda operation planned over that New Year's period. The following is from Ressam's own trial testimony:

Q. Did you discuss the type of target you would pick in the United States?
A. Yes.
Q. What was that discussion?
A. The discussion was about an airport, an airport, a consulate, that's what I remember.
Q. Were you aware of plans being made by other groups in the camp as well?
A. Yes, there were others who were planning other than us.
Q. Generally what did you know about what the other groups were doing?
A. To carry out operations in Europe, in the Gulf, against U.S. and Israel.
Q. What was the timing of those operations?
A. Before the year 2000.

Several days after the millennium celebrations, President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, announced that in the weeks before the New Year, law enforcement had disrupted terrorist cells "in eight countries and attacks were almost certainly prevented." He didn't give details, but FRONTLINE has compiled the following list from intelligence sources and press reports:

December 12, 1999 - Jordan
Acting on tips from U.S. authorities, Jordanian police arrested members of a cell planning attacks against Western tourists, including blowing up a large hotel in Amman, Jordan. A key member of this cell escaped but was later captured and is now serving a life sentence in Jordan. He was Raed Hijazi, a Boston taxi driver and American citizen who trained at bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan and who has recently been linked to the Sept. 11 attackers.

December 24, 1999 - Indian Airlines Hijacked
Five armed members of the Harakat ul-Mujahidin organization (HUM), an Islamic militant group based in Kashmir, hijacked an Indian Airlines plane with 155 passengers. One passenger was killed. The plane was held by the hijackers one week in Afghanistan before the hostages were freed in exchange for the release of imprisoned pro-Kashmiri militants held in India. The hijackers were allowed to escape to Pakistan. HUM is on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations. It is ideologically linked to Al Qaeda because one of its leaders signed Osama bin Laden's anti-America fatwah.

Early January 2000 - Yemen
Terrorists failed in a planned attack against the American warship USS The Sullivans while it was refueling in Yemen. Information about the plot came from a suspect arrested after the successful attack on the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000. The suspect told Yemeni investigators an attack months earlier -- and almost identical to the Cole bombing -- had failed when the first assault boat became overloaded with explosives and sank. The attack was planned to be timed to the millennium.

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