Blair Presents New Bin Laden Evidence

ByABC News

W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 14, 2001 -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has presented new evidence tying Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network to the Sept. 11 attacks.

MORE INVESTIGATIVE NEWS:• British Police Nab Terror Suspect

• Suspected Bin Laden Aide Held

• Spain Arrests 11, Including Bin Laden Chief• Justice Seeks To Interview 5,000

A document released by the British government today claims newly declassified evidence proves nearly all of the hijackers behind the attacks were linked to al Qaeda, rather than just three who were initially tied to the group.

"The investigative material now leaves no doubt about the guilt of Osama bin Laden or his associates," Blair told members of Parliament today in London.

For the first time, the dossier also revealed that investigators have learned the hijackers were trained in Afghanistan, the home base of bin Laden and al Qaeda.

"A senior bin Laden associate claimed to have trained some of the hijackers in Afghanistan," the document revealed.

On Oct. 20, the document reports, bin Laden taped and circulated a video among al Qaeda supporters in which he discussed the Sept. 11 attacks. The video was not released to the public but excerpts of bin Laden's comments have appeared in the U.S. and British press.

"It is what we instigated for a while, in self-defense. And it was in revenge for our people killed in Palestine and Iraq," bin Laden reportedly said. "So if avenging the killing of our people is terrorism, let history be a witness that we are terrorists."

Later in the interview, according to the British government, bin Laden said, "The battle has been moved inside America, and we shall continue until we win this battle, or die in the cause and meet our maker."—ABCNEWS

Check back for continuous updates on the hunt for terrorists from ABCNEWS' worldwide investigative team.

British Police Nab Terror Suspect

Nov. 14 —

Scotland Yard detectives have arrested a British national in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Atif Ahmed, 30, was picked up at his London apartment after police searched it last week. The arrest was the result of close work between the FBI, New York Police Department detectives and Scotland Yard.

The FBI in New York developed information about Ahmed by going through evidence seized in other parts of the investigation. Agents apparently asked Scotland Yard to follow up with the search of Ahmed's apartment. While investigators will not say exactly what was found, it proved sufficient to get an arrest warrant.

No formal charge has been filed. Under the British Counterterrorim Act, police have 48 hours to charge him, or appear before a majestrate and apply for a seven-day extension.

A senior law enforcement source said investigators have evidence of a phone call that suggests Ahmed may have been working with Habib Zacarias Moussaoui, 33, who is being held in New York on immigration charges. Sources say prosecutors are prepared to indict Moussaoui on charges that he was conspiring to commit terrorist acts in the United States.

Moussaoui was first arrested in Minnesota on Aug. 17, after flight school instructors called the FBI to alert agents that Moussaoui had requested lessons on flying a 747 flight simulator. He was not interested in takeoffs and landings, asking only how to fly the planes horizontally.

Sources say the FBI wants Scotland Yard to keep Ahmed in custody until it can be learned just how deeply he may be connected to Moussaoui.—John Miller in London, Pierre Thomas in Washington, ABCNEWS

Spain Arrests 11, Including Bin Laden Chief

M A D R I D, Spain, Nov. 14 —

Osama bin Laden's representative in Spainand 10 other suspected terrorists held meetings at their houseswhere videos of Islamic guerrilla operations were used to recruitmilitants for future attacks, police said today. "For the moment, there is no evidence they had any directinvolvement" in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centertowers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, National PoliceChief Juan Cotino said. Police displayed computer material, hunting rifles, swords andvideos confiscated from 11 suspects arrested Tuesday, and showed avideo that Cotino said was taken a year ago and showed Islamicguerrilla meetings and preparations for attacks in Chechnya. The video featured two Islamic militants, Abu Mughen and OmarDeghayes, who are known to have met in Spain with two of thosearrested Tuesday, Osama Darra and the group's suspected leader,Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas. Mughen, who lost his right eye in fighting in Bosnia, hasfrequently used a British passport under the name of David CharlesBurgess. He has previously been arrested in Britain but has sincebeen freed, police said. Cotino said he did not have the full details on the nationalityof the 11 but he said at least one, Luis Jose Galan Gonzalez, wasborn in Spain and the rest were believed to be mostly Syrian,Tunisian and Moroccan. Many of them had Spanish nationality papersthat he said could be false. Ten of the arrests took place in Madrid and one in the southerncity of Granada. Cotino said police believe Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias AbuDahdah, was a deputy for bin Laden in Spain and that he and othersdetained may have met bin Laden, the prime suspect behind the Sept.11 attacks. He said police had no information that showed they met withMohamed Atta, the Egyptian suicide hijacker believed to be theleader of the Sept. 11 attack. Police know Atta was in Spain twicethis year. Cotino said the 11 had contacts with six Algerians detained inSpain on Sept. 26. That group was accused of planning terroristattacks against U.S. interests in Europe. The six are believed tobe members of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an Algerianorganization allegedly financed by bin Laden.

The material seized included dozens of tapes, Spanish money andmaps of several European cities including Dublin, Palermo, Milan,Valetta and Belgrade. The 11 were to be brought before Spain's National Court onFriday, Cotino said.

— The Associated Press

Suspected Bin Laden Aide Held

PA R I S, Nov. 14 — Five suspects arrested in a weekend anti-terrorsweep were released on Tuesday, but a sixth was still in detention,an Algerian suspected of having ties to an Osama bin Laden deputyin Europe. The men were arrested in the eastern French city of Strasbourg,in connection with a probe being conducted by Jean-Louis Bruguiere,France's top anti-terror judge. Judicial officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, saidAbdelkader Tcharek was still in detention and expected to be movedto Paris, where he would appear before the judge and likely beplaced under investigation, a step short of charges. He is suspected of providing logistical support to MohamedBensakhria, believed to be a top bin Laden operative in Europe.Bensakhria, a 34-year-old Algerian, was arrested in Spain andextradited to France this summer. The weekend arrests stemmed from the recent discovery by Germanpolice of a 12-minute video of a cathedral in Strasbourg, in whichan off-camera voice could be heard speaking of the "symbol ofheathens." The church is surrounded in the holiday season by aChristmas market. Investigators believe an attack had been plannedfor last Christmas, but was aborted. — The Associated Press

Justice Seeks To Interview 5,000

W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 13 —

The Justice Department plans to interview about 5,000 men who have entered the United States since Jan. 1, 2000 as part of its investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks.

Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said investigators hope to gain useful information by talking to males aged 18 to 33 who have entered the United States on non-immigrant visas from nations where members of the al Qaeda terrorist network have originated in the past.

The men are not considered suspects, they are "simply people we want to talk to," Tucker said.

"They don't have to" talk to law enforcement, Tucker said. "These are consensual interviews."

But she added, "We've allowed them to come into our country to do business, and study; we expect them to help us."

The list, drawn up based on information from the State Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service, has been divvied up to the 94 U.S. attorney's districts where the people wanted for questioning are located.

"We recognize that this will be a time-consuming and complicated task, but it is critical that we expand our knowledge of terrorist networks operating within the United States," Attorney General John Ashcroft said today.

The anti-terrorism task force in each U.S. attorney's office will then spread the list out to federal, state and local investigators to carry out the questioning.

While it "could very well be possible" that the majority on the list are of Arab descent, a Justice Department official stressed that "not all" of the countries on the list are in the Middle East.

Some of the Sept. 11 hijackers are believed to have entered the United States from European nations.

While the list only contains 5,000 names at the moment, Tucker said more will be added and subtracted as the investigation continues.

The Justice Department issued two directives to the U.S. attorneys on Friday, outlining what questions should and should not be asked. In the off-limits column are questions about religious beliefs or practices. —Beverley Lumpkin, ABCNEWS

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