NY POSTCHILLING PLOT FOR 9/11 II - IRAQI PLAN REVEALEDTue Jan 23, 2007 16:32
CHILLING PLOT FOR 9/11 II
IRAQI PLAN REVEALED
By ANDY SOLTIS
January 23, 2007 -- Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq planned to sneak into the United States with student visas and carry out a devastating new round of 9/11-style attacks, it was disclosed last night.
Details of the frightening copycat plot were discovered in documents found about six months ago when coalition forces raided an insurgent hideout in Iraq, ABC News reported.
Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently submitted written testimony to Congress based on a classified report that revealed al Qaeda "was planning terrorist operations in the U.S."
Maples gave no details but sources told ABC the plot may have involved as many as 20 terrorists slipping in to the United States using student visas - just like some of the 19 conspirators who carried out the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
The names of the suspects are known and they are being hunted in Iraq and other countries, ABC said. They were described as closely tied to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed last June 7.
The terror scheme was discovered in its early stages and there is no sign that any plotters reached the United States, the sources said.
After Sept. 11, the loose U.S. student visa policy faced heavy criticism because foreign students were not monitored once inside America. Under new policy, universities must report when foreign students miss classes repeatedly or fail to arrive.
The captured documents help explain why the FBI and Customs Enforcement alerted U.S. intelligence agencies and state and local government offices last August when 11 Egyptian students disappeared after arriving in New York on a flight from Cairo.
They were part of a group of 17 exchange students who were enrolled in a program at Montana State University. Only six reported for classes there.
The "missing" students were later apprehended.
Meanwhile, in a videotape released yesterday, Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader Ayman Zawahiri mocked President Bush's plan to raise U.S. troop levels in Iraq, saying:
"I ask him: Why send 20,000 [troops]? Why not send 50,000 or 100,000? Aren't you aware that the dogs of Iraq are pining for your troops' dead bodies?"
With Post Wire Services
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