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Ny viten om Al Qaidas modus operandi gjør at myndighetene tar truslene alvorlig selv om informasjonen er tre år gammel.

Etterforskning viser at Al Qaida planlegger i årevis, omhyggelig. At informasjon er tre år betyr ikke at den er utdatert.

Man begynner med å sende folk som kartlegger et sted i detalj. Informasjonen lagres på data. I neste omgang er det andre som gjennomfører angrepet.

De mislykkede forsøkene på å sprenge 12 passasjerfly over Stillehavet i 1995 falt i fisk da leiligheten hvor plotterne eksperimenterte med bomber, ble avslørt. Men man forsto ikke alvoret, og hvor mye arbeid som lå bak. Det virket mer som stormannsgalskap. Det vet man i dag at det ikke var.

«Al Qaeda will wait years to act and decades to succeed,» Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor who has been investigating Osama bin Laden for about a decade, told the 9/11 commission this summer.

Investigators also know that even after extensively considering and then dismissing a possible target, the terrorists have simply switched their focus to another location, which may explain the intense precautions imposed around the Capitol this week, even though it is not publicly known whether it was among the buildings that were subjected to surveillance.

It is an appreciation of this modus operandi, which is evident in an examination of a decade’s worth of plotting and action by Al Qaeda, that has so complicated the decision on how to respond appropriately to evidence that might be dated. Old information is not necessarily bad information. It might just be a hint of a plot that in a somewhat revised form was close to being carried out.

……….

Al Qaeda’s painstaking preparations for attacks first emerged publicly after the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. As early as 1993, the investigation found, Mr. bin Laden sent a trusted aide to Nairobi to conduct surveillance on American, British, French and Israeli targets.

The Nairobi investigation also showed that surveillance and the selection of targets are just the initial phases in a Qaeda plot, and that other operatives, acting perhaps months or years later, will then execute the attack. Such tactics are one reason why investigators were so alarmed by the discovery of the surveillance reports of financial institutions, even though they were three or four years old. Such evidence could suggest Al Qaeda is just that much further down the line to launching an attack.

«There is a point where they have done surveillance, developed the plot, and have logistics support in place,» an F.B.I. official said on Wednesday.

NYTimes og andre amerikanske aviser har trykket en rekke slike grundige artikler. Det er utrolig hvor lite norske aviser har fulgt med og gjengitt. Det meste er overflatisk gjengivelse fra korrespondenter. Tenker redaktørene noen gang på at de kan komme til å bli anklaget for å vanskjøtte sin oppgave, som er å opplyse publiken om risikoen?

I denne artikkel står en informasjon om 911-gjengen som er ny, meg bekjent: at de drev rekognosering med småfly.

The preparations for the Sept. 11 attacks have been well documented, such as the hijackers’ use of small rented aircraft to conduct pre-strike reconnaissance flights near the Pentagon and their cross-country surveillance flights to determine such things as the best time to storm the cockpit.

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