Terror network eyeing U.S. outposts worldwide, official says
June 17, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Since bombings at two U.S. embassies in east Africa last August, a terrorist network allegedly headed by Osama bin Laden has targeted American diplomatic facilities on every continent, a counterterrorism official told CNN Thursday.
Between August 1998 and January 1999, U.S. outposts overseas received more than 650 threats from the bid Laden network. Intelligence officials told CNN they have been receiving about six credible terrorist threats a day from people believed to be affiliated with him.
The counterterrorism official, who asked not to be named, said the "pattern of activity" by the bin Laden network "ebbs and flows," with periodic spurts of "intensive activity." One such time was last December, when U.S. diplomatic facilities on every continent were targeted.
Based on intercepted conversations and other intelligence information, U.S. officials have said that they believe bin Laden "may be in the final stages" of planning an attack against the United States.
While the most likely targets would be in the Middle East or Africa, U.S. officials are refusing to rule out the possibility of an attack on American soil, including in Washington.
On June 10, the State Department issued a worldwide caution to American travelers that specifically named bin Laden. The son of a Saudi Arabian billionaire, bin Laden has been indicted in the United States for masterminding simultaneous bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last August that left 224 people dead.
The indictment charges that bin Laden and another suspect, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, in February 1988 calling on Muslims to kill Americans, including civilians, "anywhere in the world where they can be found."
CNN has learned that the most specific concern is about embassies in Mozambique, Senegal and Ghana, all of which are believed to have been under recent surveillance by possible terrorists.
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.
U.S. officials say bin Laden is allegedly trying to obtain chemical and biological weapons from a number of sources -- including former Soviet-bloc nations -- for possible use in terrorist attacks.
Correspondents Peter Bergen, Carl Rochelle, Chris Plante and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.
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Bin Laden feared to be planning terrorist attack
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