Ashcroft, Mueller Warn of Large-Scale Attack
Administration Asks for Help Finding Seven People With Terrorist Ties
By Mark Stencel, Susan Schmidt and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 26, 2004; 4:13 PM
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III warned today that al Qaeda is preparing to mount a large-scale terrorist attack "to hit the United States hard" this summer and asked Americans for help finding six men and one woman with terrorist ties.
Ashcroft said at a joint news conference that "credible intelligence from multiple sources indicate that al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months."
Among the prominent events that terrorists may want to target, Ashcroft and Mueller said, are next month’s Group of Eight summit in Sea Island, Ga., July 4 celebrations across the country and the Democratic and Republican national party conventions this summer in Boston and New York.
Citing the deadly bombings of commuter trains in Madrid in March, which came shortly before national elections that toppled the Spanish government, Ashcroft said al Qaeda appears to hope attacks "this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences" in the United States.
"Unfortunately, the same events that fill most of us with hope and pride are seen by terrorists as possible opportunities for attack," Mueller said.
Ashcroft and Mueller asked for the public’s help in locating seven people who are suspected terrorist sympathizers. "They should all be considered armed and dangerous," Ashcroft said. They included:
• Aafia Siddiqui, 32, a Pakistani woman who has a doctorate in neurological science and has studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University in the Boston area, as well as in Houston. Mueller said she may have left the Boston area in January 2003. An FBI fact sheet said she is believed to be in Pakistan.
• Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 28, a suspected al Qaeda member who has been linked to Siddiqui and whose name has come up in interrogations of captured al Qaeda lieutenant Khalid Sheik Mohammed. A English-speaking pilot, Shukrijumah was born in Saudi Arabia and spent time in Florida. Ashcroft said Shukrijumah has attempted to reenter the United States using a variety of passports. "We know that he has been involved in terrorist planning with senior al Qaeda leaders overseas and has scouted sites across America that might be vulnerable to terrorist attack," Ashcroft added.
• Abderraouf Jdey, 38, a Tunisian-born Canadian citizen who has been sought since January 2002 and whose name, Mueller said, first surfaced on an al Qaeda video found in Afghanistan.
• Amer El-Maati, 41, a Kuwait-born pilot who Mueller said "is believed to have discussed hijacking a plane in Canada and flying it into a building in the United States."
• Adam Gadahn, 25, who Mueller said was a U.S. citizen from the West Coast who converted to Islam "in his youth" and attended terrorism training camps in Afghanistan. Mueller said Gadahn has served as a translator for al Qaeda.
• Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who Mueller said were previously indicted in the United States and played roles in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. Mohammed is an alleged al Qaeda leader in East Africa who also was a primary suspect in the November 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa.
"While we do not have any reason at this time to believe that they are working in concert, we will not take any chances," Mueller said if the seven individuals sought.
Ashcroft noted that many of the seven spoke English and had experience living in the United States. He also said some might present themselves as Europeans and travel with families to avoid calling attention to themselves.
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