- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

The FBI and German authorities are searching for three suspected accomplices in the Sept. 11 attack on America who planned strikes against other U.S. targets, while federal authorities increase their vigil against the possibility of car and truck bomb attacks in the nation's capital.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, during a press conference with his German counterpart, Interior Minister Otto Schily, said a dozen FBI agents are working with authorities in Germany in a search for Said Bahaji, Ramsi Binalshibh and Zakariya Essabar, all members of a terrorist cell operating out of Hamburg, Germany.
"Their connections to the hijackers are extensive," Mr. Ashcroft said, adding that the three radical Islamic fundamentalists had been part of the terrorist cell since 1999 along with three of the hijackers who commandeered the jetliners that crashed into the World Trade Center and in Pennsylvania.
"It is clear that Hamburg served as a central base of operations for these six individuals and their part in the planning of the September 11 attack," Mr. Ashcroft said.
German authorities previously issued international arrest warrants for the three men, who are now considered fugitives.
Mr. Schily said the three Hamburg cell members who died Sept. 11 were Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, the suspected pilots of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center's north and south towers, and Ziad Jarrah, suspected of flying the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, as much of the news media and even the Bush administration are looking at a possible smallpox attack as the next threat facing Americans, federal authorities and some members of Congress are turning their attention to the possibility of a car or truck bomb exploding in the nation's capital.
"My concern is the car bomb," said Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat. "That would be my assumption."
Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said the threat of a truck or car bomb is real.
"As we have seen overseas, a car or truck laden with explosives is still a technique used to cause death and havoc," Mr. Mackin said, adding that the anthrax scare and the Sept. 11 attacks do not "take off the table" the chance that a car or truck bomb could be part of another wave of attacks soon after the anthrax scare lessens.
"Because we are seeing other types of attacks namely anthrax that does not eliminate terrorist tactics such as a car or truck bomb," Mr. Mackin said.
He said it is up to the security community to remain vigilant about preventing attacks and recognizing vulnerabilities.
Law-enforcement sources said Americans typically have grown complacent and even "let their guard down" after the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, cautioned that "there are a million possibilities" when it comes to any more terrorist attacks.
"You can't stop everything all the time," Mr. Davis said.
FBI officials told The Washington Times yesterday there is serious concern among federal authorities that the next wave of attacks could be car and truck bombs with most suggesting that trucks carrying explosives would be the weapon of choice.
Truck bombers tied to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network sought to topple the World Trade Center in 1993, although the scheme went awry when they parked in the wrong spot.
Also yesterday, the Justice Department released copies of three anthrax-laced letters sent to New York and Washington, all of which include anti-American and anti-Israeli messages. The department is looking to the public for help in its ongoing investigation.
The notes were written in block letters, all slanted to the right, and sent to NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw, the editor of the New York Post and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. All three were dated Sept. 11 leading credence to a theory that some of the 19 hijackers prepared and sent the letters.
Mr. Ashcroft said he hoped the release of copies of the letters would "alert citizens and others to the kinds of things to look for."

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