USIS Washington 

03 September 1998


(Says U.S. must devise counter-terrorism measures) (1110)

By Susan Ellis

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. strikes on suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan
and Sudan August 20 were about continuation of terrorism, not
retaliation, says Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, senior Democrat on
the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"These plans that (Usama) bin Ladin had laid out -- many of which
you've intercepted, some of which have been thwarted -- were plans
that were there on the table before the president of the United States
ordered a strike," Biden said to Director Louis Freeh of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, when Freeh testified before the panel
September 3.

Asked by Biden whether bin Ladin would have stopped his activities had
the United States not acted, Freeh responded that "the evidence is to
the contrary.

"In his (bin Ladin's) interview (on Cable Network News) on May 26th of
this year from his headquarters in Khost, which was one of the areas
targeted, he said that the jihad against the Americans which was the
result of the fatwa which he had signed in February...would be known
in the next few weeks. So this is a continued plan," Freeh said

Republican Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee said, "We talk in terms
of (bin Ladin's) retaliating but the fact of the matter is he was
apparently planning on a series of activities against us whether or
not we did anything."

"That's right," Freeh reiterated. "Had we taken no action at all in
this case, we would still be subject to his targeting."

When Thompson asked whether the FBI director thinks there will be "a
retaliation specifically from our latest activities in Afghanistan and
Sudan," Freeh responded "We can expect that."

Thompson asked for "a better assessment of what we may be in for as a
country as far as terrorist activities are concerned." Since bin Ladin
has "declared war" on Americans, the American people need to assess
the seriousness of the problem both in the United States and abroad in
order to be prepared, he said.

Freeh said Americans can "predict with some certainty" that there will
be "increased activity in terms of larger targets with more fatalities
being the objective of those attacks" as has been the pattern for the
last couple of years with respect to the bin Ladin organization and
others aligned with him.

Asked to what extent terrorists acting as "front groups" for bin Ladin
present a problem, Freeh said that the anti-terrorism act of 1996 "has
resulted in 30 of these groups being declared under the statute (as)
terrorist organizations. We have seized monies and moved to criminally
charge people involved in material support of these designated
organizations." However, he added, many of the affiliated members and
groups in the United States "do not engage in violent criminal
activity or even planned activity. A lot of the activity here has to
do with fund-raising, infrastructure-building, acquisition of
technology issues."

Asked by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama about a news
report that the FBI director was not informed about the attacks
beforehand, Freeh said he had indeed been consulted in advance of the
U.S. strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan and "together with the attorney
general, we gave our law enforcement perspective, but we were not
decision-makers nor were we asked to make a recommendation one way or
the other."

He continued, "We've had an investigation of bin Ladin and his
organization for several years -- a lot of evidence, a lot of
intelligence, which we have analyzed together and we did provide that
for them. I sketched out where our investigation was, what we needed
to accomplish in the immediate time frame as well as the long range
time frame and certainly expressed what I thought was pertinent to
other countries that could be affected by the action and how that
could relate to the law enforcement efforts." Freeh said the Central
Intelligence Agency also has had a "dedicated project with respect to
this (bin Ladin) organization for several years."

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois asked what standards FBI
agents use when they are involved in renditions -- the return of
suspects from abroad to the United States. "When you are overseas in
the midst of an investigation, as you were in Africa, do you continue
to apply and insist on the standards required by American law in terms
of constitutional protections even for foreign nationals?"

"Yes we do," Freeh said. "What we did in this particular case was
ensure what we were doing was consistent with our Constitution but
also with Kenyan law because our Supreme Court has said that if we
request a foreign police service or goverment to acquire evidence, and
they use methods which are inconsistent with our due process, we can't
use that evidence in our courts. So we were very careful and are
always careful with respect to renditions to make sure we are
operating under legal authority."

R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,
who also testified, pointed out that "There may be cases where state
sponsorship is clear and action against a state is important. On the
other hand, with respect to Sudan and Afghanistan, we may not have
state sponsorship of Mr. bin Ladin so much as Mr. bin Ladin's
sponsorship of those two states. Where terrorists are extremely
wealthy and countries are extremely poor, the countries themselves, to
some extent, are victims rather than managers."

Woolsey added "I believe the intelligence community was correct with
respect to its analysis of the soil sample...and that VX was in some
fashion present at the facility that was struck in the Sudan. But some
of the early statements about the exact nature of Mr. bin Ladin's
relationship to that facility and whether or not there was any other
manufacturing going on -- pharmaceuticals and the like -- those
statements from senior U.S. government officials turned out to be in

Among the actions that might be taken with respect to intelligence,
Woolsey said, "freezing or otherwise dealing with the resources and
assets of someone like bin Ladin or his associates could be the most
important way to deal with many aspects of terrorism."

He said covert action can be used "to give governments incentives to
dry up support for terrorist groups. The final type of action we might
take is military action such as the four strikes against the Khost
camps and the one into Sudan. I believe that the strike against Mr.
bin Ladin's camp was entirely justified and entirely appropriate."