- LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi
dissident Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) warned three weeks ago that
he and his followers would carry out an unprecedented attack on U.S. interests
for its support of Israel, an Arab journalist with access to him said Tuesday.
- Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds
al-Arabi, an Arabic-language weekly news magazine, said Islamic fundamentalists
led by bin Laden were ``almost certainly'' behind the attack of the World
Trade Center in New York.
- ``It is most likely the work of Islamic fundamentalists.
Osama bin Laden warned three weeks ago that he would attack American interests
in an unprecedented attack, a very big one,'' Atwan told Reuters.
- ``Personally, we received information that he planned
very, very big attacks against American interests. We received several
warnings like this. We did not take it so seriously, preferring to see
what would happen before reporting it.''
- Atwan has interviewed bin Laden and maintains close contacts
with his followers.
- Bin Laden is wanted in the United States for the 1998
U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people and
injured more than 4,000.
- Two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World
Trade Center Tuesday morning as office workers began work, setting them
on fire and causing both to collapse, live television coverage showed.
- Another plane crashed next to the Pentagon (news - web
sites) in Washington, a U.S. official said. Eyewitnesses said the building
was being evacuated. The White House and State Department were also evacuated.
- An anonymous caller told Abu Dhabi television in the
Gulf that the radical Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
was responsible for the two New York crashes, but a senior DFLP official
in the Palestinian territories denied any involvement.
- ``I emphasize that the story released on Abu Dhabi TV
by an anonymous person is totally incorrect,'' Tayseer Khaled, a senior
official of the DFLP politburo in the Palestinian territories, told Reuters.
- ``The DFLP is against hijacking planes and against endangering
the lives of civilians who are not connected with the struggle of this
region,'' he said.
- President Bush (news - web sites) called the crashes
an ``apparent terrorist attack,'' and pledged the U.S. government would
``hunt down'' those responsible.
- Atwan said anti-American sentiment in the Middle East
was at its peak and moderate Arab governments had been ''embarrassed''
by what they saw as Bush's reluctance to lead peace talks between Israel
and the Palestinians.
- ``The more moderate Arab governments were pleading with
the American administration to intervene and to resume its sponsorship
to the peace talks and put an end to the Israeli aggression. The Bush administration
let them down,'' Atwan said.
- He said the United States, if convinced that bin Laden
was behind the attacks, would probably retaliate in Afghanistan (news -
web sites) where bin Laden is thought to be in hiding.
- ``I will not surprised that the Americans will send their
cruise missiles to Afghanistan. There is no other country because bin Laden
is in Afghanistan.''