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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 13:06 GMT
FBI 'unprepared for new attacks'
FBI headquarters in Washington DC
Critics say the FBI is failing to get enough information
A senior American senator has said the FBI is unprepared to prevent new terror strikes on US soil.


They still don't know where the terrorists are, how many are here, what their intentions are, what kind of support network they have

Senator Bob Graham
Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Post that the bureau lacked knowledge of any domestic terror network.

Senator Graham is said to have been briefed regularly on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's plans and its knowledge of suspected terrorists based in the US.

"They still don't know where the terrorists are, how many are here, what their intentions are, what kind of support network they have," he was quoted as saying, 14 months after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

FBI officials disagree with their critics and say they are taking every possible measure to prevent new attacks.

"We are doing things far beyond what has been done before," an official familiar with the FBI's efforts told The Washington Post.

Status unknown

Other intelligence agencies also are said to have increased their activities in the hunt for suspected militants.

Wrecked jeep on truck after explosion
The CIA killed alleged al-Qaeda members in an operation in Yemen
Last week, the CIA fired a missile at a car in Yemen, killing six suspected members of al-Qaeda.

But several key members of the group's leadership remain at large.

US officials believe many are laying low in Pakistan.

Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts and status remain unknown, although many CIA and military officials say they assume he is alive.

They believe he is in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Recent communications said to be from the al-Qaeda leader give no clues as to their origins, and officials say it is possible they were made some time ago.

European alert

There have been concerns of possible new attacks in the US and in Europe as well.

Senator Bob Graham
Senator Graham said he wanted to see a sense of urgency
Ferry ports across the UK have been put on a high state of alert following warnings of an attack on a ferry from French and Dutch intelligence services.

The information was said to have originated from the FBI.

But the British Government said no-one should change their travel plans as there had been no new specific information.

Revenge warning

Security experts have been reported as saying that if military action is launched against Baghdad, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein might seek help from outlawed groups for acts of revenge against the West.

But Senator Graham said he had not seen signs of any increase in pace as the arguments with Iraq intensified.

"No evidence I've seen shows they have a sense of urgency or a thoughtful plan or very much information to predicate a plan on," he said.

According to The Washington Post, he is not alone in his concerns.

Members of the US Congress and the US National Security Council as well as intelligence experts are discussing the FBI's ability to convert from a criminal justice agency into a national investigatory body, it said.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

12 Nov 02 | Politics
10 Nov 02 | Americas
01 Sep 02 | September 11 one year on
26 Aug 02 | Americas
11 Jun 02 | Americas
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