Friday, February 10, 2006

Bush Gives New Details About Old Report of L.A. Terror Plot

Bush Gives Details of Foiled 2002 Terror Plot Against Los Angeles

President Bush yesterday (February 9th) gave new details about a foiled 2002 al-Qaida terrorist plot to fly a commercial airliner into a building in Los Angeles. The president had mentioned the plot before, in a speech last October, but only vague details were given then. The president outlined the plan now as proof of the cooperation between nations in the U.S.-led global war against terrorism that thwarted the plan and he says has, quote, "weakened and fractured" al-Qaida. At the same time, Bush said the battle is far from over, and the terrorists are, quote, "still lethal."

Speaking at the National Guard Memorial Building, Bush said that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, began planning the foiled operation just one month later. The plan was to use shoe bombs to blow open a plane's cockpit door, take control of the plane, and crash it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, now the US Bank Tower. One of the key planners was Hambali, the operations chief of the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Hambali recruited Southeast Asian men for the plot, who were less likely to arouse suspicion than Arab men, and they were sent to meet with Osama bin Laden. But Bush said the plot was derailed when a Southeast Asian nation he wouldn't name arrested a key al-Qaida operative, who he also didn't name.

The president has been mounting a full-out campaign to defend his warrantless domestic surveillance program, in which the international phone calls and e-mails of people in the U.S. with suspected ties to terrorists are monitored. But the White House wouldn't say yesterday whether the National Security Agency program helped to thwart this plot.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he was blindsided by the announcement, saying he wasn't told of the new details and described communication with the White House as, quote, "nonexistent." Villaraigosa said, "I'm amazed that the president would make this [announcement] on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels. I don't expect a call from the president -- but somebody."

Why do you think President Bush gave the details of this 2002 plot yesterday, after refusing to do so last October?

Does this announcement make you more confident that the U.S. is doing what needs to be done in order to prevent more terrorist attacks in the U.S.?

How could the Mayor of LA not know about something that was reported in his own hometown paper 2 years ago?

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