• Report: Osama Still Alive and Plotting • 'Comical Ali' Speaks Out
Missing 727 Figured in Embassy Closure
By the ABCNEWS Legal-Investigative Unit
June 27 — Information that one of the FBI's 22 most-wanted terrorists was affiliated with a 727 plane operator in Africa sparked major concern last week for U.S. counterterrorism agencies that terrorists could conduct an aerial assault against the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, sources told ABCNEWS.
The intelligence is particularly alarming after a Boeing 727 disappeared in Africa May 25 when it mysteriously sped from a runway in Angola.
U.S. intelligence agencies are trying to trace the plane's whereabouts using satellites and human intelligence, but have not yet been able to locate it.
Read Pierre Thomas' reports on the plane: 727 Vanishes It's Never Happened Family Fears Pilot's Fate
Officials do not automatically link the aircraft's disappearance to terrorism, but sources say they are concerned that a man who currently operates 727 jets in Africa — and who is described as a suspected former unofficial aviation adviser for the Taliban — is affiliated with Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. Mohammed is an alleged al Qaeda operative who was indicted in the United States in the 1998 East African embassy bombings and is still at large.
The U.S. State Department closed its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, for six days starting last Friday after the Defense Department learned that it was a specific target of a terrorist attack. Kenya has been on heightened alert status for more than a month due to a range of intelligence red flags signaling terrorist activity in the region, including the sighting of Mohammed near the Somali border several weeks ago, sources told ABCNEWS.
Intelligence officials also learned of a transfer of a cache of weapons into Kenya from Somalia, a large infusion of cash into a suspicious bank account in Kenya, and the transit into Kenya of one or more British nationals of Somali descent recently.
Combined with the disappearance of a 191,000-pound jetplane, all of this spelled the makings of an imminent attack to authorities, intelligence officials told ABCNEWS, leading to the shutdown of the embassy.
Report: Osama Alive and Plotting
By Maddy Sauer
June 27 — Osama bin Laden is alive and well and was in Iran as recently as May, says a confidential report compiled by Italy's secret service, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Bin Laden and other extremists held a planning meeting in Tehran in May, the report states, to plot terror attacks in Italy, Turkey, and Pakistan.
Shortly after the meeting, two "foot soldiers" who have allegedly undergone operational training traveled to Rome, the secret report says. It names the men as Khalid Amin and Musa Jabir.
According to the dossier, they were traveling with forged Iranian passports and speak fluent English and Arabic.
Security was heightened at Rome's Fiumicino Airport and other points of entry in response to the report, which was circulated in the beginning of June.
Two other pairs of "foot soldiers" are reportedly headed to Turkey and Pakistan. The dossier states that the Tehran meeting is solid proof that bin Laden "is still alive, and perfectly capable of running his network of terror."
Earlier this week in northern Italy, six men were arrested as part of an ongoing investigation known as "Gebel."
Police believe the men, five Tunisians and a Moroccan, are part of a Salafist group that finances terrorist organizations.
One of the men arrested, Youssef Abdaoui, was recently labeled an al Qaeda financier by the U.S. Department of Treasury and was put on a list with others whose financial assets have been frozen.
The men allegedly transferred funds raised through illegal activities to various accounts around the world in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Turkey, France and the United States. They have been charged with being associated with international terrorist organizations.
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'Comical Ali' Speaks Out
June 27 — After becoming famous — or infamous — for declaring that Iraq was defeating U.S. coalition forces even as tanks were rolling into Baghdad, former Iraq Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf spoke out Thursday on Arab television stations. Here is what he had to say about the incidents that led him to be dubbed "Comical Ali":
Abu Dhabi TV
Q: Tell us about the war.
There are a lot of details about the media coverage of the war. I mean the Iraqi media coverage of the war....
A clear example that expresses the transfer of information in Baghdad and also expresses the general atmosphere: When several American tanks, two or three, broke through one of Baghdad's eastern outskirts in Al Zo'faraneya, the leadership members back then, the person responsible for Al Rasafa, comrade Latif Jassem in the area — one of the tanks hit his car — an accurate evaluation of the situation was possible to know: if the tanks are going to be dealt with or not....
The transfer of information about this penetration in this area was slow ... more than 48 hours late.... What draws attention is that the military source of information — and this is a war — was active in the beginning and then it was the first to start declining, which started not in the back areas but in the front lines, they became tired of the correspondents and so they did not allow them to accompany them and therefore it created a great difficulty at an early stage.
Q: Did you really not know about Al Rasafa?
No, no, we knew accurately, but the number of tanks was small and the sources responsible for the military side said, "This is in fact a penetration, but the situation is under control and we'll handle these tanks."
Q: Are you going to document the details in a book?
God willing, it is important and beneficial to document it objectively based on accuracy and comparison of information after checking them to give the right explanations, God willing.
Q: There was talk about your arrest. Were you arrested?
Through some friends I went to the Americans, the officials, and there was an interrogation about a number of issues related to my work. After the interrogation I was released.
Q: Related to your work as information minister?
Related to my work, yes....