Source Pravda.Ru

Terrorists were identified long before the 9/11attack

A U.S. military team identified four Sept. 11 hijackers, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, as a likely part of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks, a former team member said on Tuesday.

Weldon, R-Pennsylvania, and vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said the hijackers were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger," which determined they could be members of an al Qaeda cell.

Weldon said that in September 2000 the unit recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists," Weldon said in an interview.

However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally, AP informs.

"In fact, I'll tell you how stupid it was, they put stickies on the faces of Mohammed Atta on the chart that the military intelligence unit had completed and they said you can't talk to Atta because he's here" legally, Weldon said.

He did not provide details on how the intelligence officials first identified the future hijackers and determined they might be part of a cell.

The congressman, considered something of a maverick on Capitol Hill, initially made his allegations in a floor speech in June that garnered little attention. His talk came at the end of a legislative day during a period described under House rules as "special orders" - a time slot for lawmakers to get up and speak on issues of their choosing.

The issue resurfaced Monday in a story by the bimonthly Government Security News, which covers national security matters.

The Sept. 11 commission's final report, issued last year, recounted numerous government mistakes that allowed the hijackers to succeed. Among them was a failure to share intelligence within and among agencies. Xinhua reports.

The issue resurfaced Monday in a story by the bimonthly Government Security News, which covers national security matters.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he was unaware of the intelligence until the latest reports surfaced.