USATODAY.com - Al-Qaeda tried to strike L.A. tower in 2002, Bush says
Al-Qaeda tried to strike L.A. tower in 2002, Bush says
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Thursday a 2002 al-Qaeda plot against the tallest building on the West Coast was foiled by U.S. counter terrorism efforts.
Speaking at the National Guard Memorial Building in Washington, the president said plotters planned to use hijacked commercial airplanes to strike the Library Tower in Los Angeles, now known as the US Bank Tower.
Bush has referred to the plot before, but White House officials had said would provide more specifics in a speech Thursday.
In an address last October, Bush said the United States and its allies had foiled at least 10 serious plots by the al-Qaeda terror network in the last four years, including plans for Sept. 11-like attacks on both U.S. coasts.
The White House initially would not give details of the plots but later released a fact sheet with a brief, and vague, description of each.
Three targets cited were in the United States, including plans to use hijacked airplanes to attack the West Coast in mid-2002 and the East Coast in mid-2003. The White House said at least one planner of the West Coast attack was a key figure behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Washington Post has reported that the West Coast plot targeted the tallest building in Los Angeles, since renamed the US Bank Tower, and involved Malaysian militants and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, who was captured in 2003.
The third was the case of Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member who converted to Islam and allegedly plotted with top al-Qaeda commanders to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was arrested May 8, 2002, at O'Hare International Airport on a material witness warrant and was designated an enemy combatant, held without criminal charge at a Navy brig in South Carolina.
Padilla was charged in November on terrorism charges and transfered to the federal court system before the Supreme Court had an opportunity to take up his case contesting his detention as an enemy combatant. He remains in federal custody in Miami awaiting trial.