DEBKAfile, November 15, 2001

"... intelligence sources point to mounting signs that Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, the United States, Canada and western Europe – especially Britain – plan a wave of painful terrorist attacks in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, starting around November 17.

These reports gain credence from examinations by intelligence officials in the United States and elsewhere of the circumstances of the American Airlines flight 587 crash over Queens, New York, last Tuesday, November 13, in which 268 people were killed. The Information accumulating opens up the possibilities of a bomb having been planted near the tail of the Airbus, or a suicide bomber blowing himself up in the rear of the aircraft. The plane came down shortly after taking off for the Dominican Republic from John F. Kennedy International airport.
Another scenario under investigation is that a surface-to-air missile was fired from a boat in Jamaica Bay near the airport.

According to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, a number of people linked to Al Qaeda in New York behaved suspiciously several hours before the crash; some, who were under surveillance following the September 11 attacks, managed to disappear, with the FBI unable to determine how they slipped away or trace their current whereabouts.

Those sources also noted that the US F-15 warplanes, on 24-hour patrol in the skies of New York and other major US cities, were ordered immediately after the crash to search for any boats or unusual activity in the Jamaica nature reserve.

The morning after, Wednesday, November 14, divers were seen scouring the marsh area for signs that missiles had been fired at the plane, such as a launcher or a scuttled boat, on the assumption that the terrorist who fired the missile escaped in a scuba suit.

Despite adamant denials by the US Federal Aviation Authority, it is now becoming clear that prior to the crash, US intelligence did indeed receive numerous warnings from intelligence sources outside the United States that a terrorist strike was likely on Tuesday, Veterans Day, to mark the two-month anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Information also points to a new wave of terrorist attacks in the making against military or economic targets in the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

In the United States, targets could include airplanes and other modes of transport as well as train stations, bridges, tunnels, central buildings in main cities, military bases and various intelligence installations.

Despite US government efforts to assure a jittery public that bin Laden and his forces do not possess nuclear weapons, DEBKAfile’s sources are certain that senior intelligence officials – including Americans -- believe that Al Qaeda does indeed possess small nuclear bombs called “suitcase bombs”. They estimate that two to three terrorist cells armed with nuclear weapons have infiltrated the United States.

According to those sources, Pakistani prime minister Pervez Musharraf and Indian president Atal Bihari Vajpayee, both of whom visited Washington last week, gave President George W. Bush information about Al Qaeda’s nuclear weapons and the possibility of the devices having been smuggled into the United States."