A Blueprint For 9/11

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The U.N. Security Council voted today for tighter sanctions against members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network and the former Taliban rulers in Afghanistan. The sanctions cover more than 300 groups and individuals.

CBS News Foreign Correspondent Tom Fenton reports one individual now of interest to Western intelligence, is a Saudi man with family ties to bin Laden and possible ties to al Qaeda.

Western intelligence experts say a restaurant owner in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah has connections that run deep into the heart of al Qaeda. He is a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, and they trained together in the camps of Afghanistan in the 1980's. But that's as much as he admits, and the Osama he describes is very different from the public image.

"He's not a person who's aggressive. He is really selecting his words very carefully when he's talking. He's a really nice guy, a very nice guy," said Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.

Khalifa says he broke with Osama in 1986 when the "nice guy" turned terrorist.

But intelligence agencies say bin Laden sent him to the Philippines in 1988, where Khalifa helped set up an al Qaeda network that planned a spectacular series of attacks. They included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and a 1995 plot to assassinate the Pope in the Philippines and simultaneously hijack a dozen American airliners, crashing them into the Pacific, the Pentagon and the CIA. Intelligence experts say it was a blueprint for 9/11.

There are a number of allegations that Khalifa was behind a number of charities that were linked to al Qaeda and that these charities funded the initial plan of 9/11," said Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside Al Qaeda."

But no government had enough evidence to put him behind bars. Khalifa was arrested in America, in Jordan, and after 9/11, in Saudi Arabia, and on each occasion was eventually released. Today he is a free man -- just a businessman, he says -- who used to run charities.

"I am telling everybody, come and talk, I am not hiding!" he said.

He has no need to hide now. But experts say that if America had paid more attention to him and the plots being hatched in Southeast Asia, history might have taken a different course.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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