Report says U.S. agencies missed clues before 9-11
Thursday, September 19, 2002

By James Risen
THE NEW YORK TIMES


WASHINGTON-- The U.S. intelligence community was told in 1998 that Arab terrorists were planning to fly a bomb-laden aircraft into the World Trade Center, but the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration did not take the threat seriously, a congressional investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks has found.
The August 1998 intelligence report from the Central Intelligence Agency was just one of a series of warnings that the United States received in the years leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks that were detailed at a congressional hearing yesterday.
The existence of the 1998 intelligence report about an aviation-related threat to the World Trade Center was revealed during the first day of public hearings held by the joint congressional panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. The report, revealed by the committee's staff director, Eleanor Hill, follows a series of disclosures about what the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies knew before the attacks.
The 1998 warning was in a newly declassified, 30-page report by the joint congressional committee that was released at yesterday's hearing. The report concludes that there was evidence of a dangerous and growing interest by al-Qaida and related groups in launching high-profile attacks inside the United States years before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. However, the evidence was not analyzed in a thorough manner at the time, the joint committee report concluded.
The congressional report provides the first disclosure that there was specific intelligence about terrorist plans to crash airplanes into the World Trade Center.
But while the joint committee made public a series of intelligence reports that had been received in the years before Sept. 11 that related to al-Qaida's intentions to launch a domestic attack inside the United States and its interest in using aircraft for terrorist operations, Hill stressed that the joint committee has still not found a