The U.S. and its allies have thwarted at least 10 serious al Qaeda terror plots since Sept. 11, 2001, including never-before-disclosed plans to use hijacked commercial airliners to attack the East and West coasts in 2002 and 2003, President Bush said. The Washington Post says the reported plots aimed to strike a wide variety of targets, including the Library Tower in Los Angeles, ships in international waters, and a tourist site overseas. Three of the 10 were directed at U.S. soil, officials said. The government said it had stopped five al Qaeda efforts to case possible targets or infiltrate operatives into the country.
Most of the plots were previously reported in some form. The White House offered scant information beyond the location and general date of each reported plot — making it difficult to assess how serious or advanced they were or what role the government played in preventing them. The three plots targeting U.S. territory included the case of Jose Padilla, arrested after he allegedly explored a possible radiological “dirty bomb” attack, and two plans to use hijacked planes to attack the West Coast in mid-2002 and the East Coast in mid-2003. Sources said the West Coast plot targeted the tallest building in Los Angeles, since renamed the US Bank Tower, and involved Malaysian militants and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, who was captured in 2003.