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FBI investigating U.S. followers of millionaire terrorist

Bin Ladin

Agents tracing money transfers through London

July 15, 1997
Web posted at: 6:05 p.m. EDT (2205 GMT)

From Correspondent Peg Tyre

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating connections between a maverick Saudi Arabian multimillionaire and his followers in the United States, who may be planning terrorist attacks on U.S. targets.

Federal agents have identified followers of Osama Bin Ladin in Brooklyn, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan, to determine whether they are preparing to carry out attacks, CNN has learned.

Peg Tyre report as seen on CNN
icon 2 min. 5 sec. VXtreme video

Bin Ladin, who was forced to leave his country, has been linked to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

Now living among followers in Afghanistan, Bin Ladin has put his money to work supporting his extreme Islamic fundamentalist views. He also has gone on record as being a bitter enemy of the United States.

In an interview with CNN last month for the TV newsmagazine "Impact," Bin Ladin said, "We declared a Jihad -- a holy war -- against the United States government because it is unjust, criminal and tyrannical."

"He is virulently anti-Western and is particularly anti-American," said Paul Bremer, an expert on terrorism, "and he has the resources to fund considerable anti-American or anti-Western activity. So he is a concern, because he's got a clear motive and he's got the means to carry out -- or to pay people to carry out -- attacks."

Agents tracing money transfers through London

Bin Ladin

Federal sources say a grand jury is investigating Bin Ladin for encouraging attacks against the United States.

According to federal sources, agents investigating Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York began looking into the activities of Bin Ladin's followers in this country.

Abdel-Rahman was convicted for his involvement in a conspiracy to bomb targets in the United States and for his participation in an attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In particular, agents have been tracing money transfers from Afghanistan and Pakistan -- Bin Ladin's power base -- through London to his followers in the United States.

Like Abdel-Rahman, Bin Ladin communicates with his adherents though audiotapes, but he also spreads his fundamentalist beliefs through Web sites on the Internet.

The FBI wants to know if Bin-Ladin is financing any religious or political activities in the United States. So far, sources say, Bin Ladin has not been linked to any illegal activities in this country, but the investigation continues.

 
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