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Bin Laden feared to be planning terrorist attack

bin laden
U.S. officials say bin Laden 'may be in the final stages' of plotting an anti-American attack

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June 16, 1999
Web posted at: 9:47 p.m. EDT (0147 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials fear that suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden "may be in the final stages" of planning an attack against the United States.

Bin Laden, son of a Saudi Arabian billionaire, is accused of masterminding the almost simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last August that left 224 people dead.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity Wednesday, told CNN that current targets would most likely be somewhere in the Middle East or Africa.

However, they refused to rule out the possibility of an attack on U.S. soil -- including Washington, D.C.

The officials expressed specific concern about U.S. embassies in Mozambique, Senegal and Ghana -- all believed to have been under recent surveillance by possible terrorists.

Individuals possibly associated with bin Laden's organization are suspected of videotaping the outside of the embassy in Mozambique.

The officials believe planning for an attack is in the "advanced" or "final stages."

They said the information was a result of intercepted communication and other intelligence gathering methods they would not elaborate on.

After the embassy bombings, the United States launched cruise missile attacks against camps allegedly used by bin Laden in Afghanistan and bombed a suspected munitions plant in Sudan.

Since then, law enforcement officials have been looking into "credible threats" involving bin Laden's terrorist organization, the officials said.

Bin Laden allegedly is trying to obtain chemical and biological weapons from a number of sources -- including former Soviet-bloc nations -- for possible use in such attacks, they added.

"We have always operated on the assumption that he is continuing his interest in both obtaining weapons of mass destruction and having his network attack targets of interest to the United States," said one official.

CNN's Carl Rochelle, Chris Plante, Pierre Thomas and Peter Bergen contributed to this report.



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