- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft, citing the arrest of al Qaeda planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and two new terrorist indictments unsealed yesterday, says America is winning the war on terrorism. But he warned that the country's survival requires continued vigilance against a "fanatical, ruthless enemy."
"The United States of America is winning the war on terrorism with unrelenting focus and unprecedented cooperation," Mr. Ashcroft announced yesterday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"We are gathering and cultivating detailed intelligence on terrorism in the U.S.; we are arresting and detaining potential terrorist threats; we are dismantling the terrorist financial network; we are disrupting potential terrorist travel; and we are building our long-term counterterrorism capacity."
That counterterrorism effort, he said, was highlighted by the indictments of two Yemeni citizens, Mohammed Ali Hasan Al-Moayad and Mohshen Yahya Zayed, arrested Jan. 10 at a hotel near Frankfurt, Germany, in an FBI undercover inquiry into the financing of terrorist activities worldwide.
Mr. Ashcroft said the two men were charged with conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda and to Hamas terrorists through a global fund-raising operation. He said the FBI learned that Al-Moayad personally handed Osama Bin Laden $20 million to finance his campaign of terror.
The attorney general offered three reasons why the United States is winning the war on terrorism. He said:
The CIA and FBI had set "new standards for cooperation and coordination" in information sharing, intelligence analysis and operational coordination. He said Mohammed's capture was "first and foremost an intelligence opportunity to prevent new terrorist attacks from killing more innocent Americans."
The reorganized FBI had fully integrated intelligence and law-enforcement capabilities to protect American lives. Using the al-Moayad and Zayed indictments as an example, he said the FBI infiltrated the fund-raising ring and relied on intelligence to bring a successful law-enforcement conclusion.
cThe government was prosecuting the war on terrorism by integrating law enforcement and intelligence capabilities under the USA Patriot Act. He said documents key to the arrest last month of Sami Al-Arian, a suspected Palestine Islamic Jihad leader, could not have been used without the new law.
"Today, Americans are safer because we have transformed the rules of engagement for investigating and prosecuting suspected terrorists within our borders," he said.
Mr. Ashcoft described Mohammed's arrest in Pakistan as "a severe blow to al Qaeda" that could destabilize the terrorist network worldwide. He said Mohammed was the "mastermind" of the September 11 attacks on America and was Osama bin Laden's senior attack planner.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who joined Mr. Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge before the committee, said while al Qaeda remains "for the foreseable future the most immediate and serious threat facing this country," the Mohammed arrest was a "significant blow" to the network's leadership.
Described by Mr. Ashcroft as the "brain," Mohammed was arrested with two associates early Saturday in a house near Islamabad by Pakistani security forces, who also seized a trove of secret al Qaeda documents. Some are thought to include the names of al Qaeda operatives in the United States.
In addition to the September 11 attacks, Mohammed has been linked to the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, an attack on the USS Cole in Yemen harbor, a scheme in the Philippines to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean, an attempt by Richard C. Reid to blow up an airliner with explosives in his shoes, and fatal bombings in Indonesia and at a synagogue in Tunisia. He also has been identified in the January 2002 kidnapping and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi.
Mohammed is believed to be in U.S. custody at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan near Kabul, where he is being questioned by U.S. authorities.
Arrested with Mohammed was Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, 34, a Saudi militant close to bin Laden who authorities believe played a major role financing the September 11 attacks. They said al-Hawsawi sent cash from banks in Dubai to Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the September 11 attacks.
Al-Hawsawi also is suspected of financing al Qaeda activities in Germany before the suicide strikes and paying for flight lessons in this country for the hijackers.

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