Bin Laden Was Already Planning a 9/11 Anniversary Attack

Clarification on earlier reports about an idea to derail a train

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Osama bin Laden didn't just aspire to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of  9/11--he was in the planning process. Today, The Wall Street Journal reported that "bin Laden was working to assemble a team of militants to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 hijackings, according to communications that Navy SEALs seized from his Pakistani hideout when they killed the al Qaeda leader this spring." From The Journal:

Bin Laden and his operations chief, Attiyah Abd al-Rahman, swapped views about the composition of the attack team, with bin Laden repeatedly rejecting names that Mr. Rahman suggested, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence taken from the bin Laden compound. The plans were only in the discussion phase, American officials said.

As the newspaper noted, there have been other reports detailing al Qaeda's ambitions for 10th anniversary of 9/11. In May, only days after bin Laden was killed and a trove of documents and hard drive materials were recovered from his Abbottabad compound, ABC News reported that al Qaeda had aspired to derail a train on this year's 9/11 anniversary. From an FBI document that ABC News obtained at the time:

"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."

The Journal may have been referring to prior information in their latest report today: "Much of the other threat information in the trove of materials was general in nature and well known, such as al Qaeda's interest in attacking trains."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.