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Bin Laden targeted oil tankers to blow up

May 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Osama bin Laden's personal files reveal chilling details of the terrorist's next big plan: a series of brazen oil-tanker hijackings at sea. It was never carried out, but the Department of Homeland Security is sounding the alarm.

Documents say that al Qaeda and bin Laden wanted to blow up oil and natural-gas tankers on the open sea, away from Muslim territories to create what they called an economic crisis.

President Obama went to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Friday to praise the agency for all the work done in the capture and killing of bin Laden.

Al Qaeda wanted information on the size and construction of oil tankers to determine how best to blow them up.

Documents seized from Osama bin Laden's compound after he was killed indicate al Qaeda may be adopting the tactics of Somali pirates who use small boats to overtake and board commercial ships.

Al Qaeda did attack and blow up part of the USS Cole with a small explosives-laden boat in 2000, killing 17 sailors while the ship was docked in Yemen.

Los Angeles Port Police Chief Ron Boyd says the newest bulletin from the bin Laden writings has not resulted in a higher state of alert at the port. No specific plans have been uncovered.

"In this particular case a higher state of alert is not necessary. Things are relatively normal as far as the intelligence community reports to us. We do look for changes. We look to see what's different today than yesterday or even a week ago," said Boyd.

Terrorists have gone after tankers as recently as this month At least five NATO oil tankers on their way to Afghanistan caught fire after a bomb planted underneath one of them exploded. There were no injuries and it's believed the Taliban may be responsible.

At the Port of Los Angeles they remain on a steady state of alert and have perfected sea marshal boarding teams for incoming vessels.

"We're certainly not at the level where we would want to go out and start to do things differently. We're not there yet," said Boyd.

But as President Obama pointed out Friday at CIA headquarters, they know a lot more today about al Qaeda's aspirations as a result of a treasure trove of information taken from bin Laden's Pakistan compound after he was killed.

The president personally thanked intelligence workers at CIA headquarters for the work they've done leading up to bin Laden's death.


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