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America Under Attack: Efforts Abroad Increasing to Find and Stop Terrorism

Aired September 14, 2001 - 00:15   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of the focus, of course, is on Osama bin Laden. He is reportedly sheltered by the Taliban, the rulers of Afghanistan. And, in turn, it is Pakistan that supports the Taliban there. Throughout the day, diplomatic pressure being brought to bear on Pakistan.

Let's turn to Tom Mintier. He is in Islamabad for the latest. Tom.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, that pressure must be immense. And I was sitting here listening to Major Garrett talking about the nervousness and unease that is going on right now in Washington. I can tell you that half way around the world, here in Pakistan, there is that same feeling of unease and nervousness.

This morning the air space over Pakistan was closed. All commercial flights kept on the ground, or kept in the air, away from Pakistan, apparently the military conducting exercise, with the military fighters up in the air. That was for several hours. Normally flights come in here in the very early hours, and they couldn't get down to land -- they couldn't take off. Basically the entire country's air space was closed off. That made a lot of people very, very nervous that something maybe would be happening this morning here, either in Pakistan, or Afghanistan, and the possibility of a military strike.

As I said in the beginning, the diplomatic pressure is immense. Just yesterday the new U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, had a meeting where she presented her credentials to the Pakistani President. Now, this was only supposed to take five to ten minutes, but she had a second meeting, once she met him and presented the credentials in a private room. And then, after the other four ambassadors had presented their credentials, she sat down for over an hour with the Pakistani President, bringing a very long and probably detailed message from the U.S. Government to Pakistan.

Now, after that meeting, the U.S. Ambassador told me that the Pakistani President pledged his support to the United States fully.


WENDY CHAMBERLAIN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN: The President made a very strong statement that he was with us, and I think that's probably all I'm able to say at this point. But, let me just say that it was positive -- it was strong. He repeated several times during the meeting that he was with us.


MINTIER: President Musharraf himself also went on television, and has made numerous statements, trying to reverse a perception that some feel is held around the world that Pakistan would not side with the United States in this. So, the President himself has made it very clear where he stands and his government stands.


GEN. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Pakistan has been extending cooperation to international efforts, to combat terrorism in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

Countries must join hands in this common cause. I wish to assure President Bush, once again, and the United States Government, of our unstinted cooperation in the fight against terrorism.


MINTIER: That assurance is being asked and requested by the Pakistani Government, to be backed up by actions. Supposedly, the U.S. State Department has asked Pakistan to stop supplying fuel across the border to the Taliban -- has asked them to close the border with Afghanistan and basically provide some intelligence to the United States. There is also the possibility that the U.S. would want air space over Pakistan to be cleared-up, in case there was a military strike. So, all of these things are being discussed by diplomats and by heads of state, back and forth, at this hour.

CLANCEY: Tom, let me ask you this -- when you look at Pakistan -- it's support for the Taliban -- General Musharraf is one leader there. Now, he sees power. Are there others in the military that might not like to see Pakistan pulling the rug out from under the Taliban, the rulers of Afghanistan?

MINTIER: I'm absolutely sure there are divisions within the military leadership about which way to go, whether the Pakistani should support the U.S. move, when it comes to military action. But, you also have to remember where the President came from. He was the leader of the military, before the bloodless coup that occurred here in Pakistan. So, he is indeed the President, but he is also the top military commander of Pakistan. So, trying to keep the troops in line is going to be a real challenge for him, because they are split.

There are divisions about support for the Taliban. There are many military commanders in Pakistan, and part of the Intelligence Service, that do indeed supply not only information, but supply other things that they've been accused of providing to the Taliban and to Osama bin Laden. So, it's going to be a very difficult political struggle for the Pakistani President to keep things in line here, if he indeed sides with the United States. CLANCEY: All right. Tom Mintier there at the center of diplomatic activity this day, as the U.S. presses on. And, we should note that the investigation into Tuesday's attacks is now extending right around the world.

In the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is saying the Philippines and the United States staged a joint raid at a Manila hotel, early on Friday. She said the Bayview Hotel is located just in front of the U.S. Embassy, but Mrs. Arroyo gave no other details.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: And, of course, the question remains tonight how -- how were the terrorists able to plan and carry out these attacks?

Well, at least possible answers are beginning to come clear. Sheila MacVicar has that.


SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the FBI continues its investigation, and police forces around the world seek clues to the identities of the hijackers, it is already possible to say something about the kind of operation required to carry out these attacks. Attacks, analysts say, that must have been at least months, possibly years, in the planning.

CHRIS YATES, JANE'S AVIATION SECURITY ANALYST: They've chosen their target very carefully. They've assessed the level of security of the points of departure for all of these aircraft. They've done their homework very well indeed.

MACVICAR: If the hijackers and their handles, investigators suggest perhaps as many as 50 people came from outside the United States. Their first problem was documents -- passports -- identity -- that would permit them to enter the U.S. without detection, setting off no alarm bells. And that, analysts say, would not have been difficult.

MAGNUS RANSTORP, TERRORISM ANALYST: Infiltrating using false documentation, using identity theft, is relatively easy, and requires some planning, but is not impossible to get access to that in many parts of the world.

MACVICAR (on camera): Months, or even years ago they would have slipped into communities, trained to attract no attention, perhaps not even knowing, say terrorism experts, there were others that would be involved in the plot.

And to evade American electronic eavesdropping there would have been little telephone contact, instead months spent in planning and study -- searching flight guides for long-haul flights -- flights heavy with explosive fuel -- and testing, again and again, airport security.

RANSTORP: I would suspect that they would have had months of recognizance to see, and test and probe the security of guessing the weaponry on board.

YATES: It's quite possible that maybe these hijackers have carried out a trial run, or several trial runs, taking the weapons that we believe, at this moment, that they had on board, through security checkpoints, time and again, to see how often -- how easy it is to do.

MACVICAR: Little was left to chance. Even the risk of failure minimized by hijacking so many planes. Investigators say at least some of those involved were pilots. At least two suspects are known to have trained at a flight simulator, and some aviation security consultants suggest they may have used a widely available computer game to practice flying.

CHUCK ROHRER, AVIATION GAMER: The first attack was probably coming from straight down Manhattan.

MACVICAR: A computer game that could take a terrorist right to his target.

ROHRER: When you got there in real life, you feel like you've been there before. You would know what you were looking for.

MACVICAR: A game that even provides precise geographic coordinates. The recognizance, the planning, and the execution, this all costs money, and requires sophisticated skills. Security analysts and intelligence sources say this may not have been carried out by one group alone. They do not rule out, they say, the involvement of a state in helping organize this.

Sheila MacVicar, CNN, London.




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