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America Under Attack: Attorney General Begins Probe Into Attacks

Aired September 13, 2001 - 06:52   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Work behind the scenes in our nation's capitol as the U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft, calls the probe into Tuesday's attacks. And we keep calling it the most massive and intensive investigation in American history.

And as David Ensor is reporting now, U.S. officials apparently have already made some significant progress.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. officials say on the passenger manifests of the hijacked planes used in the attacks, they found names associated with terrorist groups.

Intelligence officials say the evidence still points to the al Qaeda group, headed by Osama bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There had to be some brains behind this. We have some good, promising leads. They are obviously being followed.

ENSOR: Publicly, the Bush administration is accusing no one so far, while warning nations they, too, will pay for any help given to those who attacked New York and Washington.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will hold accountable those countries that provide support -- that give host nation, if you can call it that, support and facilities to these kinds of terrorist groups.

ENSOR: Afghanistan's Taliban government has long offered haven to bin Laden, but U.S. officials say they have no evidence thus far of any state directly assisting the attacks in New York and Washington.

Many analysts argue that such a coordinated broadside could not have been possible without it.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO COMMANDER: Osama bin Laden represents a complete terrorist network. He will have one or more state sponsors -- countries that he is either based in or working in collusion with. There will have been passport support, communications support.

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: One thing I think that ought to make us a bit suspicious about whether bin Laden was involved in it alone or not is that he goes to great lengths to advertise himself. And when you see something like that, you begin to wonder whether or not there may be an effort to draw our attention solely to him to the neglect of someone who may be his principal contractor.

ENSOR: If there was state support, a number of terrorism experts point to Iraq as the most likely suspect.

A statement from President Saddam Hussein on Iraqi television said -- quote -- "The United States reaps the thorns that its rulers have sown in the world."

(on camera): U.S. officials say they are developing good law enforcement and intelligence leads. They do not know yet who is behind these attacks nor whether any state assisted them. But they believe they soon will.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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