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Release Of British Terrorist Attack Documents

29 October 2001

Release Of British Documents Relating To September 11 Terrorist Attacks

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff today released information provided by the British Government which outlines links between Al Qaida led by Osama bin Laden and the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

“Bin Laden welcomed the attacks but denied responsibility for them. While the evidence contained in the document is circumstantial, it points quite clearly to Al Qaida being behind the attacks.

“There is no other known terrorist group which has the resources and organisational strength to have carried off the highly coordinated and carefully planned attacks of 11 September.

“Bin Laden has claimed credit for the attack on US soldiers in Somalia in 1993 which killed 18; for the attack on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 which killed 224 and injured nearly 5000; and is linked with the attack on the USS Cole last year in which 17 crew members were killed.

“The 11 September attack had the common hall-marks of the earlier acts with regard to planning, absence of warning, coordination, total disregard for casualties and the use of suicide attackers. At least three of the hijackers identified from the passenger lists of the four planes hijacked have already been positively identified as associates of al Qaida.

“Bin Laden’s own comments point to his responsibility. In February 1998 he issued and signed a ‘fatwa’ which included a decree to all Muslims:

“…the killing of Americans and their civilian and military allies is a religious duty for each and every Muslin to be carried out in whichever country they are until Al Aqsa mosque has been liberated from their grasp and until their armies have left Muslim lands.”

“UK intelligence indicates that Bin Laden asserted shortly before 11 September that he was preparing a major attack on America. In August and early September close associates of Bin Laden were warned to return to Afghanistan from other parts of the world by 10 September. Immediately prior to 11 September some known associates of Bin Laden were naming the date for action as on or around 11 September.

“The evidence contained in the British report is for public release and does not contain other material which is sensitive and might endanger sources. For this reason the document does not purport to be the evidence which would be produced in Court to secure a conviction. What it does demonstrate, however, is the strength of circumstantial evidence that Al Qaida is responsible for the attacks,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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