White House target of Flight 93, officials say
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials said Thursday captured senior al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah has told them hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 was intended to hit the White House on September 11.
U.S. officials said Zubaydah gave them the information a couple of days ago. One official said that "on balance" authorities believe Zubaydah.
The information leading to warnings that terrorists might attack New York City landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge also came in part from Abu Zubaydah, sources said.
Flight 93 took off from Newark, New Jersey, the morning of September 11 and crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers apparently battled the hijackers.
The San Francisco, California-bound flight had turned toward Washington, and U.S. fighter jets were flying to intercept it, and possibly shoot it down, when it crashed. All 44 people on board were killed.
U.S. officials said that Zubaydah's willingness to talk changes from time to time. They said he has told authorities information that has been corroborated and characterized it as "useful" about what the terrorist network may be planning. But they said not all of what Zubaydah says is believed to be true.
Had Flight 93 reached the White House, one official said, there "wouldn't have been much left, would there?"
Zubaydah, a Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia, was captured in March in Pakistan. He is considered to be one of Osama bin Laden's key lieutenants.
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