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4 Asian nations foiled 9/11 type attack on US

Last updated on: February 10, 2006 13:10 IST
United States Friday revealed that four Asian nations helped the country foil an al Qaeda plot to crash a hijacked plane into Los Angeles' tallest skyscraper.

Two South Asian countries and two South East Asian countries helped US in thwarting the plan, the White House said refusing to name them as, "...our partners want to have it kept a secret."

The revelation by White House Counter-Terrorism adviser Frances Townsend came soon after US President George W Bush in his speech at National Guards Memorial Building said that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the operational mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was the brain behind the plot.

Providing details about the plot, Bush said that in October 2002 the US and its allies foiled a Qaeda plan to use bombs hidden in shoes to blow up the cockpit door of a plane, hijack it and slam it into the US Bank Tower (popularly known as Library Tower) in Los Angeles, the tallest in the west of River Mississippi.

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"It took the combined efforts of several countries to break up this plot... By working together we stopped a catastrophic attack on our homeland," he said.

"Rather than use Arab hijackers as he had on 9/11, Mohammed sought out young men from Southeast Asia whom he believed would not arouse as much suspicion."

"Once the operatives were recruited, they met with Osama bin Laden, and then began preparations for the West Coast attack," Bush said.

"Their plot was derailed in early 2002 when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative," Bush said without disclosing the name of the country or the operative.

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Townsend said Mohammed, working with Hambali in Asia, recruited four members of the terrorist cell and trained its leader in how to use shoe bombs.

The 9/11 attacks originally were planned to include both the East and West coasts. "It was bin Laden who decided that it should just focus on the East Coast, and that the West Coast should be held in abeyance... as a follow-on attack."

"It's our understanding now that it was too difficult to get enough operatives for both the East and West Coast plots at the same time," she said.

Bush, during his speech also praised Pakistan for its support for US' war-on-terror.

"A little over four years ago, Pakistan was only one of three countries in the world that recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Today, Pakistani forces are risking their lives in the hunt for al Qaeda; President Pervez Musharraf has faced several attempts on his life since his courageous decision to join the war on terror," Bush said.
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