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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 11:39 GMT
CIA checked college terror 'link'
Ground Zero, World Trade Center
The World Trade Center was destroyed eight years later
A former director of the CIA has admitted for the first time that he visited Wales to examine possible links between a former Swansea student and the 1993 World Trade Center bomb attack.

James Woolsey came to Wales before 11 September as US intelligence experts began examining links between Iraq and global terrorism.

James Woolsey, former CIA director
James Woolsey: Investigation

US officials have suspected that the man convicted in 1997 of the bomb attack, Ramzi Yousef, could have had strong links to Iraqi intelligence.

It is being claimed Yousef was a former electronics student at the Swansea Institute, under another name.

The World Trade Center bombing in 1993 left six people dead and 1,000 injured.

The second attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 killed thousands of people and destroyed the north and south towers.

Ramsi Yousef, 34, was convicted of the 1993 bombing together with Eyad Ishmoil, who was jailed as Yousef's accomplice.

Four other accomplices received prison sentences totalling 240 years.

Aliases

The World Trade Center bomber is understood to have used a number of aliases.

These included the name Abdul Kareem, who was a former HND student at Swansea Institute.

US security officials took the possible links seriously enough to send Mr Woolsey and the former CIA chief confirmed he had visited Swansea prior to 11 September.

Osama bin Laden model
The CIA were investigating links to terrorism

The Criminal Intelligence Agency, which has responsibility for US national security, had ordered an investigation to the links with Wales.

But senior staff at the institute said they have long doubted the different aliases were the same individual and believe the real former student's identity may even have been stolen.

Yousef was jailed after a four-month trial, which took place amid tight security at Manhattan Federal Court.

The prosecution claimed Yousef built the bomb and planned the attack.

His solicitors argued he was the victim of over zealous federal agents eager for quick arrests.

But he already had convictions for bombing an airliner over the Far East in 1994 and of plotting to bomb a dozen American planes the following year.

Ishmoil was accused of parking the truck laden with explosives in the centre's underground car park.

He maintained throughout the trial he believed he was delivering cleaning supplies to the World Trade Center.


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