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Sky Terror; 24 in Custody; Tracking the Plot; Chilling Briefing; New Airport Reality; Bojinka 2?; Plot Foiled; Suspects at Large

Aired August 10, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Terror in the sky. A terror surpassing even 9/11.
ANNOUNCER: A brazen terror plot that could have killed thousands.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.


ANNOUNCER: Two dozen suspects now in custody. But how can we be sure the plot was foiled? How many more terrorists are out there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are dealing with a plan that is every bit as sophisticated as the kind of plans we have seen al Qaeda carry out.


ANNOUNCER: A terror plan with the marks of al Qaeda. Still strong, five years after 9/11. What exactly are they capable of?

In the Middle East, a different kind of terror. Deadly new fighting and both sides bracing for more if diplomacy fails.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Sky Terror." Reporting tonight from London, here is Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Well, here at Heathrow, security is always high, but not like now. Not like tonight. It is a whole new category at this hour, both here and at airports around the United States. And there is re good reason for that.

Authorities here say they have broken up a major terrorist plot with connections to Pakistan and possibly al Qaeda. A plot to take down as many as 10 airliners, bound from Britain to the United States. A scheme, experts and officials tell us, with all the hallmarks, all the fingerprints of al Qaeda.

Police here now have 24 people in custody. They are looking for a whole lot more. All the angles tonight in the hour ahead. We begin with CNN's Deborah Feyerick.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police went house to house, continuing the search in London, the industrial city of Birmingham to the north, and the Thames Valley to the west. British officials weren't saying much about the people arrested but they believe they have the key players. Sources familiar with the investigation say as many as 50 people could be involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot stress too highly the severity that this plot represented. Put simply, this was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.

FEYERICK: Sources close to the investigation say two of the suspects had already recorded so-called martyr tapes, to be released after the alleged attacks. U.S. sources say nearly all of those arrested are British. Some of Pakistani descent.

Sources say two of the suspects recently traveled to Pakistan and met with an al Qaeda operative. Later they allegedly received money, wired from there.

And Pakistan officials say an Islamic militant arrested near the Afghan/Pakistan border several weeks ago provided a lead that played a role in quote, "unearthing the plot." They also say information from Pakistan helped convince the British to act now.

U.S. government officials told CNN the British have their own source, from the inside, an undercover agent who had infiltrated the group and was able to provide specific information on when to move in.

JOHN REID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Had this plot been carried out, the loss of life to innocent civilians would have been on an unprecedented scale.

FEYERICK: British media is reporting that one of the suspects was a Muslim charity worker. Another worked at Heathrow airport and had all access security clearance there. The alleged plot, according to the British, was to simultaneously blow up as many as 10 airplanes, flying from Heathrow to the United States, using potentially explosive liquids and other materials in carry on luggage. U.S. sources say the alleged plot was in its final stages, maybe days away.


COOPER: Wow. That is amazing. Days away. Deborah, do we know what kind of intelligence led authorities to move now?

FEYERICK (on camera): Well, one of the strongest pieces of intelligence, Anderson, they had is that some of the suspects were actually at a point where they were online, searching the web to buy airline tickets. This for a dry run which could have happened as early as Friday, tomorrow. And because authorities got information, they stepped in, they moved on that and that's why they decided to go now as opposed to wait and let any more time pass.

COOPER: It's just amazing. Deb Feyerick, thanks very much for that reporting.

As Deb said, there is the al Qaeda connection to worry about.

But as CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports, now there is also the problem, a growing problem here in England of homegrown hatred.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the benefit of hindsight, the path to that this thwarted plot is clear. Just 13 months ago, four bombs struck London. All on subways and buses. They left 52 dead and hundreds injured. That attack may point the way to what is happening now. What they learned then may also help investigators as they seek to unravel an al Qaeda connection.

Is this a case of homegrown terror? The July 7 London subway bombers were British born. That sent shivers through the country. Homegrown terror, it was said, not the work of al Qaeda, but sympathizers. But the truth turns out to be different.

A recent video from al Qaeda reveals two of the subway bombers not only went to Pakistan, but actually received explosives training and direction from al Qaeda's senior most leaders.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, TERRORISM EXPERT: British authorities have indicated that the bombs used in the operation were such sophistication that they must have been the result of some form of al Qaeda training, probably in Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: So is there a Pakistani connection in this case? Something that might point investigators toward that al Qaeda connection. The early answers seems to be yes. New information from two U.S. government officials reveals that two of the suspects recently traveled to Pakistan. Government sources in the U.S. and Pakistan tell CNN that arrests in Pakistan may have made the difference. Intelligence from Pakistan led British authorities to speed up their investigation, make arrests and shut down the plot.

CRUICKSHANK: Pakistan is in a new Afghanistan for al Qaeda. The crucial thing is the individuals involved with al Qaeda are now in Pakistan. That savoire-fair, that knowledge is now in Pakistan. And it's being speculated now that people involved in this current plot in London were also able to take advantage of that.

AMANPOUR: Is this part of a terrorist game plan? Indeed simultaneous attacks like the four London bombings on subways and buses and the four hijacked jets of 9/11 are hallmarks of al Qaeda.

But the framework for this kind of attack revealed today seems to date back more than a decade to 1994. Back then, al Qaeda was already experimenting with blowing up planes, using liquid explosives.

In fact, a year later, they plotted to blow up 12 planes flying from Asia to the United States.

And there was Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, now in federal prison. Just three months after 9/11, he tried to blow up a plane flying from the U.K. to the U.S. Reid was also a member of al Qaeda.

Finally, as we look for a possible al Qaeda connection, the question is have we already been warned? Listen to what Osama bin Laden had to say earlier this year, propaganda perhaps, but today, one can't help but wonder if he was sending a message.

OSAMA BIN LADEN, (through translator): They're in the planning stages and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.


COOPER: And we're still getting more information now about this plot.

AMANPOUR (on camera): The latest is that the British government, the Treasury Department has announced that they have seized the financial assets of a good number of these 24 suspects that have been arrested and are waiting further investigation.

COOPER: Twenty-four arrested. They still think there may be more out there.

AMANPOUR: They do. You know, they're not confirming what the U.S. has said, which would put a number on how many are out there.

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: But you can see that with the critical level of alert still in place here, it means that they fear an impending or imminent attack.

COOPER: Right, that it's still out there. Christiane, thanks very much for that.

A lot of moving parts to this story to talk about. A lot more to talk about with connections it seems around the globe. Correspondents we have working dozens of leads.

So let's check back in with Deborah Feyerick. We also asked John King and Jeanne Meserve to check in with us.

Deb, what is the latest in the investigation? Do they know -- I mean, how serious a threat still remains?

FEYERICK: Well, the threat level is still critical. So this is definitely far from over. Authorities really are saying this is really just the first phase in what is a very fast moving investigation. They believe that there are ties to other countries, so they're running that down now as well. They believe that they do have the key people, but there are others who may be involved either directly or on the periphery. So, of course, they're chasing them down. But they had to move now. There was simply too much intelligence and couldn't even wait another day before going after the people who they thought were involved -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeanne Meserve, I mean, we have known about the potential threat from liquid chemicals before. Why is it only now that the airlines are -- have made this banned substances, that you can't take liquids on?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have a whole range of threats to contend with. They contended, of course, with explosives. They contended with box cutters. They had a lot of things they are looking at. This is on the list. They had technologies in the pipeline, but we heard today that none of them are yet ready to be deployed across the board. It is a question of priorities. It is a question of money. And it is a question of what the current threat is. Today, this is the threat.

COOPER: John King, how long have authorities known, or U.S. authorities known about what was going on here in Britain?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, only in the last two weeks, we are told, were U.S intelligence sources brought in for the scope of this and the specificity when British officials told them. They realize now that this was a major plot. A half dozen or more planes targeting transatlantic flights into the United States.

There were some contacts between British intelligence officers and U.S. intelligence agencies going back more than that, more than two months or so, some early contacts about hey, do you know this person? Hey, should we check on that person? But it was in the past -- a little more than two weeks, we are told, that the C.I.A. and other U.S. agencies were contacted.

The British said we think this plot is brewing to the boiling point and it involves using American planes to fly them over the Atlantic and to blow them up over the Atlantic.

COOPER: Deb Feyerick, if there are 24 people arrested, but some officials are saying there may be as many as 50 people involved in this plot, do authorities know who 50 are? I mean, they say they've been investigating this for months. Accordingly they had someone on the inside. Are the identities of all the other people known?

FEYERICK: That's unclear. And British authorities simply won't tell. Part of the problem is because the laws here are so different. They don't want to say anything that could potentially blow their case. So we're getting some information from the U.S., some information from here.

They do know that they're British, many of them of Pakistani origin. Two of them did make suicide tapes. Two others, perhaps the same, perhaps different, also received money wired to them here from Pakistan. So they're piecing the details together.

And an interesting thing that I do want to mention is in terms of how they would operate, whether they would operate in teams, when we went through the airport from the U.S. here, to Heathrow Airport, they had a secondary screening. And one of the big concerns, according to an official that I spoke with, was that perhaps if there were a number of them, each bringing in different components, all they had to do was get those components to the one person who could then put them together, so that's why we had a secondary screening as we boarded the airplane. They checked all of our bags, went through all of our belongings, wanded us down and then even did a pat down as well.

COOPER: John King, do the authorities in the U.S., who you talk to, the officials, feel that some sort of major terrorist attack is likely in the United States in the next year or two?

KING: Well, Anderson, the September 11th anniversary, of course, is less than a month away, just a month away, the five-year anniversary. There is a debate, a dispute within the intelligence community as to whether al Qaeda cares about anniversaries. But many think -- many have expected for some time some sort of a large attack.

There's actually been a dispute, some in the Bush administration saying they don't think al Qaeda is capable of pulling off such a grand attack. Obviously, you have a plot uncovered today. British officials say it was a quite dramatic of the scope, if not even greater than 9/11.

U.S. officials say for some time that they expect a threat. Many officials say they expected some sort of an attack around 9/11. They think, they think and we emphasize think that if there was such a grand attack planned, that this was it, that al Qaeda does not have the corporate structure it had five years ago. It is not capable of simultaneously pulling off two or three or four big major operations. So, now what they're worried about, Anderson, implementing new security measures to deal with what they've learned about this plot and watching for a smaller scale thing, something like on a subway, something like perhaps an embassy overseas.

COOPER: And Jeanne Meserve, the security measures now in place in the U.S., a little bit different than here in the U.K. In the U.K., you can't bring anything on board, any carry on baggage. In the U.S., you can bring some things on, right?

MESERVE: But you cannot bring on liquid and gels in your carry on bag or in your hand into the cabin of the aircraft. Those are the things they want out. And that ban is going to stay in and in fact for the indefinite future until they unravel this plot entirely and figure out exactly what's involved. There could be some modifications, they could have to strengthen it. And there are a few people suggesting tonight that this is a ban that might have to stay in place permanently because right now there is not technology in place that can screen for liquid explosives.

COOPER: Wow. That is troubling. Jeanne Meserve, Deb Feyerick, John King, appreciate your reporting. Thank you.

If the suspects are in fact al Qaeda, or at least some of them are in fact al Qaeda, they probably are giving investigators a difficult time, as instructed by their training manual.

Here's the raw data. The handbook, titled, Military Studies and the Jihad against the Tyrants, says members should have a quote, "calm personality" to allow them to endure psychological trauma such as arrest and imprisonment. The manual says that prior to executing an operation, the leader of the group should tell the others what to say if they're captured. It also said that each member of the group should have quote, "a story" that suits his personal status and the province of his residence. The 180-page manual, by the way, was captured by British police six years ago.

A lot more ahead in this hour. Britain's Tony Blair is President Bush's biggest ally in the war on terror. We all know that. Coming up, though, how and when President Bush learned about the terror plot. We'll look at behind the scenes over the last few days.

Plus what all of this means for air travel. It will likely never be the same. Coming up, what travelers in Britain and the U.S. faced at airports today and what you're going to face tomorrow if you try to get on a plane, when 360, "Sky Terror," continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's happening all the time these days, isn't it? I mean, one scary story after another. And it gets to a point where they tell you so many you don't know which ones to believe.


COOPER: While most of the world heard about the terror plot in Britain this morning. But President Bush has known about it for days, receiving frequent briefings from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his biggest ally in the war on terror.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux takes us behind the scenes.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush used the foiled terrorist plot to make two points. First, to justify his war on terror.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.

MALVEAUX: And second, to convince Americans they are safer on his watch.

BUSH: This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11. We have taken a lot of measures to protect the American people.

MALVEAUX: It was Sunday when Mr. Bush first learned of the developing terror plot out of the United Kingdom during a video conference call with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. This photo was released by the White House that day to show the president engaged with world leaders on the Middle East crisis. But the terror plot remains secret.

The following day Mr. Bush delivered this ominous warning during a rare Crawford news conference.

BUSH: Part of the challenge in the 21st century is to remind people about the stakes. And remind people that in moments of quiet, there is still an Islamic fascist group plotting, planning and trying to spread their ideology.

MALVEAUX: But the past four days White House aides say Mr. Bush received updates about the possibility of an impending attack.

Wednesday, Mr. Bush got another update from Blair that British authorities were seeing signs of something imminent, and that was time to move.

That evening the president gave the green light to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to raise the threat level for air travel. Aides say the president was not given a heads up about the timing of the overseas arrest, nor woken up when they occurred.

But some Democrats are suggesting that the White House used its advance knowledge to score political points. They object to the coordinated comments made in recent days from the vice president, the press secretary, and the head of the Republican Party, all attacking the Democrats for being weak on terror.

KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: As a party that once stood for strength, now too often stands for retreat and defeat.

MALVEAUX: Senior administration officials call the Democrats' charge preposterous.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: If in the next 48 hours we see Republicans exploiting this, that will be unbecoming to them.

MALVEAUX (on camera): This foiled plot comes at a critical time for President Bush who is already dealing with the Middle East crisis in Iraq that may be descending into civil war and, of course, the anniversary of September 11th.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Crawford, Texas.


COOPER: And Christiane Amanpour joins me again. You were actually in Kabul when you found a lot of these al Qaeda manuals.

AMANPOUR: You know, right after 9/11, after the U.S. invaded and got rid of the Taliban, everybody went all over looking for evidence of al Qaeda, what they had done, what they had been planning. And we found -- we were the first, actually to find in some of those al Qaeda houses these manuals which were full of writing about chemical equations and instructions about how to mix substances.

And at the time, the focus was on could this have been a crude WMD manual because everybody was saying that they were into WMD. But I think analysts think that actually and especially when you see things like this, that it is much more -- much less sophisticated, but much more deadly really because they could use it. It is about mixing chemicals to make this kind of potential.

COOPER: It's amazing how you don't need to be, you know, or have a Ph.D. in chemistry to be able to mix these chemicals.

AMANPOUR: Except it is simple but it is also sophisticated because it is very hard to detect liquid explosives which is why they're trying to do that. That's why the experts were so pleased to have thwarted this.

COOPER: Christiane, thanks. We'll talk to you again shortly.

A lot more to cover if you have air travel plans, keep in mind there is a new reality in flying. Coming up, a look at the new rules in place. What you need to know before you get on a plane or even head to the airport.

Plus, a plot that may have inspired what we are facing now in this special edition of 360, "Sky Terror," live from London's Heathrow, continues.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I could see that people were anxious about having to just literally give everything up, as you might say. I'm not doubting that the things aren't well looked after, but, you know, you bring very much personal possessions in your hand luggage and suddenly they have to be taken away from you? And so you just are anxious about that?


COOPER: Well, the terror plot in Britain set off a flurry of meetings in Washington over the last 24 hours. U.S. Congressman Peter King in New York is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He was briefed about this attack last night. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: How concerned was he? How concerned were you?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I've known Mike Chertoff for quite a while. We've had some agreements on different issues, but he's always been cool, always entirely composed. But when he called me last night, that was the first time in my relationship with him that I have seen him -- the voice just sounded tense over the phone. He seemed very concerned. And I didn't say anything about it. He brought it up on his own. He said it's very seldom that I let thing get to me, he said. But this is really having an impact. This one could be bad.

My own reaction was this, you know, the enormity of this, the breadth of this threat, you would have had thousands of Americans killed, it would have been comparable to 9/11. And it would have been absolutely horrific. And it came very close to happening as far as these guys were ready to go. Whether it would have been today or tomorrow or next week, I don't know. But the fact is they were ready to go. They had this plot perfected. So, this was a very, very serious threat to our country.

COOPER: They made 24 arrests so far. They say their investigation is still ongoing. Do you sense there are a lot more people still out there who are involved in this plot? I mean, do you think this plot is still under way in some ways?

P. KING: Anderson, my understanding is there is not a large number. I would say it's in single digits.

The concern is, first of all, to have any people of this type loose is dangerous for this country, which is why Great Britain has maintained such a high threat rating today, even after the plot itself was brought down.

But also there is a concern that there may be a Plan B. When you have guys this dedicated, when you have terrorists who are this skilled, we have to assume or at least consider the fact that there could be a Plan B.

COOPER: Why all of a sudden now are these liquids being banned when we knew before that this was a risk?

P. KING: We're talking about some very basic household items. And it was the sophistication where you were taking basic items but actually to make something lethal out of them. So I don't know if this could have been anticipated. The fact, you know, the war against terror is always changing. They -- we are I think slightly ahead of them. But they are always trying to catch up. And we can't afford let them catch up even once.

COOPER: But the president said he thinks the United States is safer than it was before 9/11. Do you think that's true?

P. KING: yes, it is safer, and I'll tell you why. This plot probably would not have been stopped prior to September 11, 2001. Even though the British are our closest allies, I don't think you would have seen that level of concern in Britain, even that level of cooperation in Britain between MI5 and Scotland Yard. Nor would there have been such an involvement by the United States. All the information was shared by our country and by the British.

And I can tell you that this plot really took off just over the last several weeks. Until then it was sort of plotting along. But in the last several weeks it really took off.

COOPER: Do you think an attack in the United States is inevitable in the next year or two? P. KING: I certainly think an attempted attack upon the United States is inevitable. I am hopeful that with the measures we have in place and with allied cooperation we can stop it. But we have to do everything right. We have to always be lucky. They only have to be lucky once. It is a dangerous world. But I think we are making progress. You know, we can have all of the defensive mechanisms in place and they can still get through. The surest way to stop it or what really strengthens our hand is by having good overseas intelligence. And that's what we had here.

COOPER: Congressman King, appreciate your perspective. Thank you.

P. KING: Anderson, thank you.


COOPER: Today bottles of makeup and soda are going to the airport security bin, usually reserved for knives. Screeners are clamping down on a long list of carry on items, a whole new list of carry on items.

In fact, CNN's Dan Simon joins us now with more on what's good to go and what is not -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the biggest change, pretty much everybody's going to have to check their luggage now. Even for those one day short hops. That's because the list, as you mentioned, is so far reaching.

I'm just going to go through it. Beverages, shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste and pretty much any other item of a similar consistency. It's something we're all going it have to get used to and today it created long lines all across the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No liquid is allowed. Even yogurt, folks. No yogurt today.

SIMON (voice-over): American travelers are already accustomed to tight security, but many are having trouble understanding the latest restrictions on toiletries and liquids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We like to think that somebody knows what they're doing and that this must be necessary. But I don't think you can blow up a plane with blush.

SIMON: This was just one load of trash at the San Francisco airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a bottle of champagne in there, and there's a lot of lotions, perfumes.

SIMON: It's a throwback to the days immediately after 9/11, when airport screeners seized hundreds of scissors, nail clippers and knives. Today's ban hit items that seem a lot less dangerous, including hair gel, eye drops and makeup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: $80 worth of makeup. That hurt.

SIMON: Screeners are allowing baby formula and medicine for people who can show that they have valid prescriptions. Some passengers feel there are still some oddities. They can buy drinks once they get past security inside the terminal. But they must throw them away before getting on the plane and are then subjected to another search.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have additional measures of security check-ins and checks that we're doing before people get on the aircraft.

SIMON: But some passengers tell us that's not always being enforced.

In some airports like Phoenix, the new rules cause long lines at the x-ray machines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I would have known ahead of time, you know. If you don't watch the news, then you don't hear about it.

SIMON: Despite the inconveniences like this woman checking this tiny bag with her toiletries, the travel industry says it expects people to keep flying.

KEVIN DOYLE, NEWS EDITOR, CONDE NAST TRAVELER: I have a feeling that people are going to -- after the initial shock of this, they're going to get used to the idea. They're not going to like the restrictions, but they're going to prepare themselves.

SIMON: As bad as it is here, travelers in Britain have it worse. Not only no more carry on bags, no iPods, computers, video games or DVD players either. If you're a kid going on a long flight, too bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd be pretty bored.

SIMON: No indication yet there will be a ban on electronics here too, but it didn't stop parents from worrying about how to keep their children occupied.

How will traveling be for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very, very hard. Very hard. It really just keeps them busy. We are traveling to Miami, which is like five hours, 40 minutes.

SIMON: For now, it's all about ditching water and perfume. And the airport seemed prepared with trash cans every few feet.


SIMON (on camera): Well, as you saw, there was a wide range of emotions there. Some people really didn't seem to mind, while others were extremely frustrated. In terms of how long this is going to take place, as Jeanne Meserve noted, it's going to be in place for the indefinite future. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Dan, the bottom line, and actually I should just point out there is a plane right now, British Airways flight just arriving here at Heathrow. We've only seen a few planes coming and going. But a sign that the airport is trying to get back in business. It has been a very bad day for business at Heathrow.

Dan, very briefly though, the bottom line if you're traveling on a plane in the United States, you have to check your bag. The only way you can bring your bag on board is if you don't have any toiletries. Is that correct?

SIMON: Yes, if you don't have any toiletries or wine or champagne or any kind of beverage. You can on the other hand bring magazines and newspapers and electronics and things you're totally accustomed to bringing on board. No problem there.

But, as you mentioned, in England, it's a different story. No carry on luggage there whatsoever. As a matter of fact, we have a British Airways flight behind us and they're giving out plastic bags for people to put their wallets in and their newspapers in. No bags whatsoever on a British Airways flight to London -- Anderson.

COOPER: Amazing. Dan, thanks very much for that report.

That is the situation today. But some are wondering if this alleged plot has ties to the past, an attack that was thwarted 12 years ago. We'll have some insight on that attack coming up.

And a different kind of terror. The latest from the Israeli/Lebanon border. More fighting and more diplomatic efforts at the U.N., when 360 continues.



BUSH: This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11. We have taken a lot of measures to protect the American people, but obviously we're still not completely safe because there are people that still plot.


COOPER: Well, one of the eeriest thing about this alleged conspiracy is that it bears a striking resemblance to a plot hatched by al Qaeda 12 years ago. That operation was code named Bojinka.

CNN's Joe Johns takes a look back.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 1994, years before destruction of the World Trade Center, the so-called Bojinka project to blow up a dozen planes in the air was for a time the most twisted terrorist operation ever uncovered, chillingly similar to today's alleged plot, adding to speculation that the same group was behind both.

TIM ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSIONER: It was the kind of al Qaeda signature, spectacular, synchronized planning, explosive devices.

JOHNS: The name Bojinka was adopted by al Qaeda Mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his nephew Ramzi Yousef, a nonsense word first thought to mean big bang in Serbo-Croatian.

The plan, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, was to detonate liquid explosives on U.S. commercial jumbo jets over a two- day period.

Terrorist operatives would board the planes in Asia and place bombs set to detonate over the Pacific en route to the United States. Mohammed's nephew even pulled off a successful test run on a Philippines airline flight headed for Tokyo.

Author Maria Ressa wrote about it in a book.

MARIA RESSA, AUTHOR, "SEEDS OF TERROR": He carried with him on board liquid explosives. When he got on the board the plane midair, he put the bomb together, then he slid that under the seat that he was occupying. In the Sabou (ph), in the Philippines, he got off.

JOHNS: The ensuing explosion killed a passenger and forced this emergency landing in Okinawa. But what kept the larger plan from being executed was little more than a lucky break.

Authorities discovered a computer with Bojinka project plans, along with chemicals and what appeared to be bomb-making materials at Yousef's Manila apartment after a fire. Yousef was later captured and convicted. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is also in custody.

But even with the Bojinka planners neutralized, the suspicion is that people they could have trained or even recruited are those behind the plot uncovered today.

(On camera): So if it is al Qaeda, why the fascination with planes? First, analysts say, attacks on airlines cripple commerce. Then there is the pure shock value of it. Plus the fear such attacks create and the message that government can't protect the people.

CRUICKSHANK: Al Qaeda are determined to strike commercial aviation. This see that as having an enormous global impact. And they're determined to think three ways. They can evade detection of explosives at airports internationally. They're absolutely determined.

JOHNS: And that's why the same murderous themes keep getting tried out again and again, testing, probing and refining methods along the way.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Hmm. So the Bojinka plan was foiled, but was anything actually learned from it? Up next, Former FBI Assistant Director Pat D'Amuro joins us to talk about that.

And later, new hope for peace in the Middle East, but more fighting to report as well. CNN's John Roberts covers it all, ahead on 360.



REID: Had this plot been carried out, the loss of life to innocent civilians would have been on an unprecedented scale.


COOPER: That was the head of British Homeland Security speaking today.

Joining me now from Orlando, Florida, is CNN Security Analyst and Former FBI Assistant Director Pat D'Amuro.

Pat, good to be with you. We just heard about this Bojinka plot, which was a plan in the 1990s to blow up planes headed to the U.S. with liquid explosives. It was an al Qaeda plan that got thwarted. Do you think anything was learned from that?

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: There was a lot learned. That was a very tense time for the New York office of the FBI, coming off the heels of the terrorist op. investigation and preventing the blind Shaikh from blowing up the tunnels and then what we called, Manila Air, the Bojinka investigation, and actually that investigation also preventing the explosion of nine different jumbo jetliners over the Pacific Ocean.

COOPER: What do you think -- what do you think was learned from that? I mean, did that mean that sort of liquid explosives was suddenly much more on the FBI's radar?

D'AMURO: Well, that particular plan that was concocted by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was to secrete explosive material, liquid explosive material in the body cavity of dolls, and using a Casio watch to blow up that device aboard a jumbo jetliner. So there was a lot of intelligence that was collected about the different materials that were being used. Ramzi Yousef eventually caught and tried and convicted in the southern district of New York.

COOPER: Twenty-four people have been arrested in this plot so far. There are various reports there may be as many as several dozen more. There was one report from the U.S., saying as many as 50 people might have been involved in this plot. Do you think the threat still exists?

D'AMURO: Well, they're saying that they're not sure that all the people have been rounded up yet. What that could mean, Anderson, is are there operational people out there, are the logistical people out there? That's a very key question that investigators I'm sure are asking themselves right now.

If there's additional operators out there, there could be a potential threat. From what I'm hearing from sources in law enforcement that this is very similar to the type of individuals that were involved in the London bombings and the train and the bus bombings that recently occurred.

I'm sure because of the connections and the way that this looks like the Bojinka investigation, that we're going to find as this investigation develops connections to different individuals associated with al Qaeda or maybe even associated to the training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

COOPER: One of the individuals arrested in this plot so far reportedly was a worker here at Heathrow Airport who had access to basically all areas of the airport. How are airport workers in America screened? Do they have extensive background checks?

D'AMURO: There is a screening process. And the process also includes checking their prints out with the FBI to ensure that there is a due diligence investigation, that they are hiring individuals that don't have a prior criminal history.

Many airports -- in fact, all airports I believe, are utilizing that type of security screening.

COOPER: Pat D'Amuro, appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much for joining us.

Joining me right now is Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

You actually flew in here today and went through all of these security requirements?

AMANPOUR: I did, actually. And not even the major airports. I came in by a small one, low budget airline. But it was incredibly stringent. And you got to the airport and there was no mobile phones, no cameras, no computers. People had to put their computers under -- which is, you know, risky in and of itself. But they were very, very strict. But I have to say that it was a little haphazard because when I arrived, I saw our plane had deplaned with no hand luggage. But one coming from another airport in France, everybody had their backpacks...

COOPER: Oh, really?

AMANPOUR: ... and their hand luggage. So, it was a little bit, you know, sort of weird, that instance.

COOPER: One of the other questions is, you know, they're saying now for -- if you have a child, you can bring in baby milk, but they're going to make you taste the baby milk which is not really all that sort of an authoritative way to make decide -- I mean, someone could theoretically taste this chemical and just sort of grin and bear it if they were determined to get it on board the plane.

AMANPOUR: I guess. Unless it's poisonous in any way. But I think that, you know, people are now telling us that maybe we're all going to have to get used to this highly restrictive travel, no hand luggage. It's very tough for people who basically want to travel with just hand luggage.

COOPER: Right. And many of us who travel a lot in the United States rely on just being able to get on the plane quickly with hand luggage, business travelers.

AMANPOUR: That's right, and get out.

COOPER: Yes. Christiane, thanks again.

Another deadly day in fighting between Israel and Lebanon. That story is coming up.

But first, Tom Foreman joins us with a "360 Business Bulletin" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson. Some airline stocks fell because of today's big story. United Airlines fell 1.3 percent. Continental fell 1.5 percent. And the parent company of American Airlines up a little, down a little, closed unchanged. Despite all of that, stocks on Wall Street closed higher today. The Dow finished up 48 points to close at 11124. The NASDAQ advanced 11 points and the S&P gained nearly six.

A drop in oil prices was one of the reasons broader stocks did well. Oil fell more than $2 a barrel today. The numbers of passengers canceling flights led investors to bet that demand for jet fuel would fall. So light sweet crude closed more than 3 percent down at $74 a barrel. That may help with us the gasoline we'll be buying to drive now -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom, thanks.

The U.N. Security Council may be close to an agreement -- may be close to an agreement, we should emphasize, in a plan to end the fighting in the Middle East even as the battle picks up.

We'll have a live report from the war zone, next on 360.


COOPER: Well, the situation today in the Middle East picked up steam. And at the U.N., the U.S. says a peace deal may have been reached. Security council could vote on it tomorrow. With the details from the battle front, here is CNN's John Roberts in northern Israel with our "360 War Bulletin."


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At nightfall, thick oily smoke clouds a Lebanese hillside. An Israeli artillery shell finds its mark. The strike is in support of troops fighting in the town of Marjayoun, within sight of Lebanon's Litani River.

The operation began Tuesday night from the tip of the Galilee Peninsula, the farthest drive north yet for the Israeli army.

The goal is to eliminate the threat from Hezbollah raining Katyusha rockets on Northern Israel. More than 160 fell today, 28 inside populated areas. One struck this house in a village of Dir Alasad (ph), killing an Arab mother and her 5-year-old child.

Hunting down those launch sites is proving more difficult than first thought, says Israeli Army Spokesman Michael Oren.

MICHAEL OREN, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Hezbollah was deeply dug in here. They had six years to do it. And extracting them from their underground tunnels, craters, arms caches is a laborious and dangerous process and is not done overnight.

ROBERTS (on camera): In the light of day, you can see the aftermath of an intense battle that was raging for more than 36 hours. This mark of a main battle tank has taken some sort of round here in its front end, stripping off a lot of that armor.

Walking now toward the Lebanese side, you can see that the border fence has been blown wide open. Crossing over into Lebanon, these are the tank berms that were built for these Merkavas to hide behind while they fired on Hezbollah positions.

Smoke still hangs through this valley, and we still hear the sound of gunfire in the Arab villages that dot these hillsides.

The Israeli army is describing this, though, as only one of their pinpoint operations that they have been engaging in for nearly the last month. This is not part of an expanded ground campaign that still may lie ahead in the days to come.

(Voice-over): Tanks and troops continue to mass near the border, though political leaders are holding off on an expansion, hoping just the threat will pressure Lebanese officials into a deal to end the fighting. But if diplomacy fails, they have vowed a major invasion, a move that has broad support in Israel.

OREN: I think clearly that on the ground campaign, you limit to a certain degree the amount of civilian casualties we're inflicting on the other sides, even at the risk of incurring greater casualties on your side among your soldiers.

ROBERTS: Israeli today indicated its intent to continue hitting targets from the air, dropping leaflets into Shiite areas in Southern Beirut, urging civilians to leave. And for the first time, Israel struck Beirut's more affluent neighborhoods, targeting a lighthouse that served as a cell phone communications tower.

But some Israeli officials are wary of sending large numbers of new troops into Lebanon, even scaling back their expectations of what this war will achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since we didn't initiate the war, we don't have to win it. We have to stop it.

ROBERTS: Israeli political leaders insist they will exhaust the diplomatic options before launching an expanded ground war. They won't say how long they'll wait, but with some progress on the diplomatic front and President Bush urging both sides not to escalate, the threat of a larger ground war may remain just that.

John Roberts, CNN, along the Israel/Lebanon border.


COOPER: And we'll have more of 360 in a moment, live from Heathrow Airport. Stay with us.


COOPER: Tomorrow, on "AMERICAN MORNING," young Americans risking their lives to bring humanitarian aid to displaced people in the heart of the war zone.

Plus, all the latest developments on the airplane terror threat. That's tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.

Thanks for watching this special edition of 360. We'll see you tomorrow from London.

"LARRY KING" is next.


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