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U.S. Acts On Bin Laden Threat

Declaring an unusual and extraordinary threat to the United States, President Clinton imposed economic sanctions against the Islamic rulers of Afghanistan for harboring Osama bin Laden, the terrorist believed responsible for bombing two American embassies in Africa, and thought to be plotting more attacks.

State Department spokesman James Foley said, Â"WeÂ've received intelligence reflecting a pattern of activity that indicates planning for terrorist attacks against American interests by bin Laden and his associates.Â"

A Â"terrorist threat advisoryÂ" issued by the CIA a few days ago warns that bin LadenÂ's planning has reached an advanced stage, reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin.

According to the advisory, bin Laden operatives have been overheard discussing plans similar to those used in the bombing of the embassies.

Last month, six U.S. embassies in Africa were temporarily closed because of the threat of terrorist attack, but the advisory says bin Laden could strike almost anywhere, including remote locations in central Asia.

And he does it all from the sanctuary provided by the Taliban faction , which rules most of Afghanistan.

President ClintonÂ's order bans U.S. trade with and investment in the 85 percent of Afghan territory under Taliban control. Official figures show the United States exported $7 million in goods to these areas last year and brought in imports worth $17 million. About 15 percent of Afghanistan is controlled by a rival group.

After the embassy bombings, which killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans, and injured thousands, the U.S. launched cruise missiles at a row of villas in Afghanistan where bin Laden was believed to be staying. But he wasnÂ't there. Since then he has been placed on the FBIÂ's 10 Most Wanted list with a $5 million reward on his head.

U.S. intelligence tries to track bin Laden as he moves about Afghanistan. But launching another military operation against him requires knowing where he will be on a specific day, and that kind of intelligence is hard to come by.

Meantime, in Cairo, businessmen from Saudi Arabia and other sources say that bin Laden received a torrent of donations from rich Saudi and Persian Gulf people after the United States put the $5 million price on his head. The sources said bin Laden may have netted more than $50 million before the Saudi government learned of the transfers and ordered them stopped.