Bin Laden considered 9/11 anniversary attack on US rail system
The potential plot, sketched out in a vague note last year, was more significant in that it showed that bin Laden was not just a figurehead of Al Qaeda but an active leader.
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Documents found in the US raid on Osama bin Laden's compound indicate that Al Qaeda was plotting an attack on the US rail system, possibly for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The information, the first major disclosure from what may be the largest intelligence haul since 9/11, comes as Al Qaeda confirmed its leader's death in a statement on jihadist websites, saying that bin Laden's blood "would not be wasted."
The discovery of the documents in Mr. bin Laden's hideout show that he was actively involved in planning attacks, debunking the commonly held belief that he had been reduced to merely a figurehead of Al Qaeda while in hiding. "He continued to plot and plan, to come up with ideas about targets and to communicate those ideas to other senior Qaeda leaders," an unnamed US official briefed on the documents told The New York Times.
The US Department of Homeland Security disclosed the information in a statement issued Thursday, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has warned rail companies of the suspected plot. This was the first release of information gleaned from the documents, computers, hard drives, and other items found in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The New York Times reports that a handwritten note dated February 2010 pondered the possibility of derailing a train traveling across a bridge on Christmas, New Year's Day, the day of the State of the Union address, or on Sept. 11, 2011. The note was vague, and officials have described the plot as mostly "aspirational," with few concrete details.
"Counterterrorism officials said this new threat information was more remarkable for its source – bin Laden – than for its content. The notes showed his personal interest in a railway attack," the Wall Street Journal notes.