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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Weapons Found in Afghanistan Cause Domestic Terror Warning

Aired May 30, 2002 - 12:04   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: Welcome to CNN LIVE TODAY. I'm Carol Lin. Bill Hemmer is on assignment in New York.

We've got some breaking news to begin with right now, and it concerns the war on terrorism and the military capabilities of al Qaeda. With that breaking story, exclusively, CNN's Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon right now -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, you may recall that earlier this month, CNN broke the story that an expended shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile tube was found in the desert near the Prince Sultan Airbase, where U.S. forces are based in Saudi Arabia. This missile tube, at the time, was a bit of a mystery. Officials couldn't say exactly what it was all about.

But now the FBI, after subsequent investigation, has apparently linked this to al Qaeda and as a result issued a nationwide alert for the possibility that terrorists could use shoulder-fired missiles against commercial aircraft.

The May 22 FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by CNN says, "Subsequent investigations suggest that the discovery is likely related to al Qaeda, targeting efforts against U.S.-led forces in the Arabian Peninsula."

Now this SA-7 surface-to-air missile typically has a range of about up to three-and-a-half miles, up to 13,000 feet. It would be a -- the ideal weapon to try to bring down a plane from the Prince Sultan Airbase as they take off and land just a few miles from where the missile was found.

Now the FBI warning stresses that the U.S. has no specific intelligence that al Qaeda is planning to attack commercial aircraft with shoulder-fired missiles. It says, and I quote again, "The FBI possesses no information indicating al Qaeda is planning to use stinger missiles or any type of portable aircraft weapons against commercial aircraft in the United States."

But it goes on to say, "However, given al Qaeda's demonstrated objective to target the U.S. airline industry, its access to U.S. and Russian-made portable anti-aircraft systems, and the recent apparent targeting of U.S.-led military forces in Saudi Arabia, law enforcement agencies in the United States should remain alert to potential use of portable anti-aircraft systems against U.S. aircraft." And, again, this is one of those warnings where no specific information, but a general warning goes out to law enforcement all over the country, just telling them to be very alert for this possible threat -- Carol.

LIN: But Jamie, you raise a very interesting point. I mean, alert for what? What are airport officials and local law enforcement suppose to do with this information?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, they just -- again, it is just -- in the post-September 11 environment, they want people to be on the lookout for everything. I mean, obviously, suspicious activity near an airport, somebody driving a suspicious vehicle, anybody who might be carrying something that looks like it could be pieces to an anti- aircraft, portable anti-aircraft system. Those are the kind of things -- this kind of alert goes out to law enforcement offices telling them, watch out for this. This is a possibility based on the fact we think they may have tried this in Saudi Arabia."

LIN: All right. Well all morning long, Jamie, as you know, we've been keeping our eye on another hot spot, the border between India and Pakistan. And it looks like President Bush is going to be sending his secretary of defense to the region. What can Donald Rumsfeld do to cool the temperature down there between these two nuclear powers?

MCINTYRE: Well, he's going to do everything he can. Of course, Rumsfeld is the latest high-level official to be dispatched to the area to try to prevail on both sides. The good part about this is that the United States does have good relations with both India and Pakistan. Of course, secretary of state was there, Colin Powell was there. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is there.

Now Rumsfeld will swing by there after a NATO meeting in Brussels to, again, try to lower the temperatures, do whatever he can do to prevail on both sides to step back a little bit, as those two countries appear to be on the brink of conflict.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much, Jamie McIntyre, live from the Pentagon.

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