More pre-Sept. 11 U.S. bungling alleged

Aug. 9, 2005 at 10:11 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A former U.S. defense official claims that four of the Sept 11, 2001, hijackers were tabbed as possible al-Qaida members a year before the attacks.

The former defense intelligence official and Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said an elite military intelligence team had identified Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as likely members of al-Qaida operating in the United States as early as the summer of 2000. However, the information was not shared with other agencies, Weldon told The New York Times.

The former intelligence official spoke on the condition of anonymity, and said the Special Operations Command had established the elite military team called Able Danger in 1999, under a classified directive issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about al-Qaida cells around the world.

Weldon said at least two congressional committees were looking into the allegation.

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