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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 15:40 GMT
CIA office 'lost in terror attack'
World Trade Center as second plane strikes
CIA staff escaped before the towers collapsed
A secret CIA office was destroyed in the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center, the New York Times reports.

The US intelligence agency had an undercover site at 7 World Trade Center near the twin towers.

The CIA sent a special team to scour the wreckage for vital intelligence reports after the attack, the paper says.

Intelligence operations

Government officials quoted by the paper said the agency's staff working at the undercover site were safely evacuated before the twin towers crashed to the ground.

US intelligence operations were seriously disrupted, the paper said.

Wreckage of the base of the World Trade Center
The CIA searched the wreckage, it is reported

Reports were said to have been stored in the building on either paper or computers - it is not known how much was recovered.

The site operated behind the front of another federal organisation which the New York Times did not name.

The office was used as a base to spy on and recruit overseas diplomats working at the United Nations, and played a major role in espionage operations against Russian intelligence officers, the paper says.

It also kept up contacts with several leading US business executives, who shared information with the CIA after foreign business trips.

Agents based at the Manhattan site often worked undercover, pretending to be diplomats or business executives.

CIA logo
The CIA has refused to comment

They were also heavily involved in counter terrorism efforts in the New York area, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies.

Rigorous training

The paper says US intelligence officials stress there is no evidence that the hijackers knew that the undercover station existed.

CIA officers have undergone rigorous training and drills on how to quickly and effectively destroy and dispose of important documents in emergencies, states the New York Times.

As a result, a CIA station should be able to protect most of its secrets, a former agency official told the paper.

"If it was well run, there shouldn't be too much paper around," the former official said.

CIA officers in New York have been forced to share space at the United States Mission to the United Nations, as well as borrow other federal government offices in the city, officials told the newspaper.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment to the newspaper.

See also:

30 Oct 01 | Americas
CIA seeks rogue state co-operation
12 Sep 01 | Americas
High-profile victims of US attacks
23 Oct 01 | Americas
CIA's licence to kill
03 Nov 01 | Americas
'Ground Zero' firefighters charged
12 Sep 01 | Business
Wall Street counts the cost
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