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Panel: Sept. 11 attack was delayed

June 15, 2004 at 7:30 AM

WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- The Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on the United States were originally planned to occur months earlier, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Quoting sources close to the independent commission investigating the attacks, the newspaper said there is evidence the attacks were intended to be carried out in May or June of that year but were postponed by al-Qaida because lead hijacker Mohamed Atta was not ready.

The evidence indicates the mission's mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, persuaded al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to postpone the attacks by several months because of organizational problems.

The panel is preparing to release its final report in late July, and is also expected to issue a separate report Thursday exploring whether U.S. fighter jets may have been able to intercept American Airlines Flight 77 before it struck the Pentagon if they had been dispatched more quickly.

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