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HOTLINE: America's New War

Aired September 20, 2001 - 01:00   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.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: we're going to go Garrick Utley and get the latest news.

Gary?

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jack, let's check out, go down the list, so to speak, at some of the things that are happening and we can look forward to.

First of all, as we know, President Bush speaks to Congress and the American people on Thursday night. He's going to ask the American people, according to sources in Washington, to be patient as he gets his forces in order and decides exactly what to do next.

As for those troop or force movements, Air Force planes are on their way to the bases in the Persian Gulf region. Also, the U.S.S. aircraft carrier, The Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S.S. Roosevelt, is headed that way. But administration officials are warning the public, don't expect any military action imminently. That's not in the cards apparently.

Meantime, the investigation continues. The FBI has its agents, thousands of them, working all across the country, searching for more than 190 people, that's 190 people, it wants to question. Dozens of people, it's believed, could have played some role in these terrorist attacks. And that's the way many terrorist cells operate.

Here's an explanation from our Deborah Feyerick.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The indoctrination begins in camps far from American shores, Afghanistan and North Pakistan where Osama bin Laden soldiers train. Here they're taught a radical interpretation of Islam, how Western civilization is the root of all evil. The men, often young, often single, learn skills like map reading, weapon firing, even bomb making.

After training, they're sent out, told to lay down roots in places like Germany, Florida, New Jersey. The pattern was laid out in testimony made public in the trial of those convicted of the bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

A computer file from a confessed terrorist conspirator shows the men are told to take a legal job as a cover. Several of the suspected dead hijackers, for example, were students. The men are taught how to blend in, to look clean-cut, and even go to bars. Small groups, so- called cells, may wait for years to be activated.

Counter-terrorism expert, Michael Brooks.

MICHAEL BROOKS, CNN CONSULTANT: The typical terrorist cell consists of three main components: your intelligence cell; your logistics cell; and, your tactical cell.

FEYERICK: The intelligence cell is in charge of surveillance, scouting out possible targets. For example, this confessed terrorism conspirator told FBI agents that 1993, five years before attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, bin Laden asked him to survey potential American, British, French, and Israeli targets -- quote -- "I took pictures, drew diagrams, and wrote a report," he said.

One of the men who carried out those attacks told the FBI the intelligence cell may set up a food stand or buy and set up some kind of shop nearby to the target.

BROOKS: They're there to look for vulnerabilities; they're there to gather information about potential targets.

FEYERICK: Two men, now detained by the FBI in the World Trade Center attacks, worked at a newspaper stand at a busy New Jersey train station, one stop from Manhattan. The FBI will not discuss why the men are being held.

BROOKS: After the intelligence cell has done their work, you'll have one person that passes that information on to the logistics cell.

FEYERICK: In the embassy bombings trial, prosecutors showed how the logistics cell was able to get fake IDs and passports and raise money to help move the plot along.

And then, there's the tactical team.

BROOKS: The tactical cell is the actual cell that will -- the cell that will actually go out and do the particular terrorist act.

FEYERICK: Even if Bin Laden is behind the attacks, his group, Al Qaeda is known to recruit non-members to carry out low-level tasks. In the embassy bombings trial, testimony showed how low-level operatives rented houses, bought cars and ground explosives.

Secrecy is a key component and a safety valve. Even if police learn of part of the planned attack, the rest is likely protected.

BROOKS: They operate independently of each other. Again, the reason for this is, the less people that know, the less people that are going to talk.

FEYERICK: In Kenya, one of the bombing planners never met the cell member who rode with the bomb truck until they were in custody. (on camera): As the date of the attack gets closer, cell leaders pull out, move on. It's one reason, say investigative sources, why a number of those implicated in each of the attacks against American interests remain at large.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

UTLEY: Fascinating insight into how those terrorist cells often operate. Apropos, of course, to the human toll, there's been a lot of discussion in New York City about a prayer service, how do you organize it on a citywide basis.

Well, one idea given was to hold it in Central Park. But then, they thought -- the authorities thought they were going to get a million people there, what kind of a terrorist -- a target for the terrorists would that be in Central Park. So, the answer is this:

There's going to be a prayer service in Yankee Stadium this coming Sunday. It's going to be for the families and the friends, the relatives of those who have been lost in the disaster. It will be on Sunday afternoon. And Jack, just think of that Yankee Stadium. What a scene. There have been title -- heavyweight title bouts there. The Pope has held his services there. The Rolling Stones have sung and strutted their Mick Jagger and others. Even baseball, a lot of baseball. But this will certainly be the saddest event ever held in the house that Ruth built.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, you mentioned the Pope, I covered his visit to New York in 19 -- was it 1986? And I was up at Yankee Stadium when he said mass there. It was -- it was quite a use for that old baseball park.

All right, thanks, Gary. Garrick Utley.

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