Video: US officials: Al-Qaida had trains in its sights

  1. Closed captioning of: US officials: Al-Qaida had trains in its sights

    >> and the latest on the raid and killing of osama bin laden . ann curry is in abbottabad again this morning. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning to you, meredith. a few hours ago, a u.s. drone attack with multiple missiles fired was reported. this is likely to further inflame the already tense situation here. also today, a major push-back from the army. roads cleared, reporters, every cleared from osama bin laden 's compound as officials here want this embarrassment to end. this morning, new video emerged, shot by pakistani intelligence services inside osama bin laden 's compound. this as u.s. officials release initial details of what special forces found there on laptops, papers and cell phones. no references to specific plots. but, they say, it appears al qaeda operatives weighed options as far back as february 2010 as to whether or not they should attack trains on the september 11 anniversary as they have in britain, spain and india. embarrassed about the way the u.s. took down osama bin laden on thursday the most powerful man in pakistan called sunday's raid a misadventure warming in a statement that any similar action violating the sovereignty of pakistan would jeopardize the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the united states . a respected pakistani journalist and bin laden expert says security is gathering intelligence from three of bin laden 's wives taken into custody at the compound.

    >> i think they can provide information to the investigators which areas where he was hiding, what kind of people he was meeting, and especially from how long he was hiding in pakistan .

    >> reporter: u.s. analysts piecing together the life of one of those wives, amal asada was just 18 when she was married to osama bin laden then at 43 becoming his last and favorite wife. she was known to be devoted to him. she lunged forward seemingly to protect osama. she was shot in the leg. she was in the room when her husband died. she's from yemen, a country osama considered his homeland. she was like him -- simple, pious and not interested in luxury like his other four wives. it appears she lived her life on the run.

    >> she traveled with bin laden during one of the most difficult parts of his life when he was mostly on the run traveling across pakistan , afghanistan with few luxuries yet she stuck by him.

    >> reporter: there are reports that amal, now in custody, has told interrogators that osama bin laden and family members had been living in the compound for the past five years. she will know details about the life of the world's most wanted man and u.s. officials will want to speak with her. pakistan security is reportedly considering lettinging u.s. officials have access to osama bin laden 's wives but not to hand them over. also there is a report in the washington post that the cia had a safehouse here used to monitor movements at the osama bin laden compound. if so, locals here still don't know where that safehouse was. david, back to you.

    >> all right, ann. thank you very much. reporting from pakistan

By Pete Williams Justice correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/6/2011 8:12:01 AM ET 2011-05-06T12:12:01

Al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, according to an initial look at DVDs, computers and other documents seized at the raid on Osama bin Laden's home, NBC News reported Thursday.

However, U.S. officials told NBC News that they have no recent intelligence indicating such a plot is active.

Story: Al-Qaida vows revenge for bin Laden's death

The information about a possible train plot is the first intelligence revealed from the trove of material found in the attack on bin Laden's compound. Officials said they found what they call "aspirational" items — things al-Qaida operatives were interested in trying to make happen.

A government advisory obtained by NBC News and sent Tuesday to the rail industry said that as far back as February 2010, al-Qaida was contemplating "an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary" of the 9/11 attacks.

Slideshow: After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound (on this page)

One option, the advisory said, was trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or on a bridge. Such an attempt would probably only work once, the material in bin Laden's house said, because tilting or tampering with the rails would be spotted, the advisory said.

Other material mentions a desire to target big mass-transit hubs, an interest long understood because of the history of al-Qaida attacks on rail targets in Spain, the United Kingdom and India.

The FBI and Homeland Security are encouraging local governments to maintain vigilance. But there are no plans to issue a terrorism alert, because there is still no specific or credible intelligence of any actual attack plan in the works, NBC News said. 

    1. AP sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal
    2. Slate: Is bin Laden's 'porn' worse than his terrorism?
    3. SEAL-mania grips US in wake of bin Laden raid
    4. Kerry: US-Pakistan alliance at 'critical moment'
    5. Bin Laden was logged off, but not al-Qaida
    6. US shows off warship that buried bin Laden
    7. NYT: Cities nationwide heighten vigilance on terror
    8. Pakistan threatens to cut NATO's supply line

Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler issued a statement Thursday that the department has no information on "any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting; it is unclear if any further planning has been conducted since February of last year."

"We want to stress that this alleged al-Qaida plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change," Chandler said.

He said the department and its partners since Sunday have reviewed protective measures for all potential terrorist targets, including critical infrastructure and transportation systems across the country and deployed additional officers to non-secured areas at airports.

Story: Bin Laden wife: I didn't leave hideout for 5 years

They also are identifying "any new targeting rules that should be instituted to strengthen the ways we assess the risk of both passengers and cargo coming to the United States," Chandler said.

It’s taking time to analyze all the material found in the house because some of it is encoded, according to officials briefed on the contents, and little, if any, of it is in English. A call has gone out throughout the federal government for Arabic speakers who have the highest level of security clearance to help with translating the material.

The assault team took five cell phones , five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 storage devices from the compound, along with other objects, such as guns, papers and clothing. Two senior U.S. officials told NBC News that people in the compound were using cell phones to communicate, a gaping hole in security around bin Laden.

Story: Bin Laden aides were using cell phones, officials tell NBC

A senior official said that the material taken from bin Laden's house in Pakistan was first taken to a U.S. base in Afghanistan, where it was quickly skimmed for any urgent information. It was then turned over to the FBI, so that a legal chain of custody could be established in case any of the material is needed to prosecute terrorists.

The FBI flew everything to its facility in Quantico, Va., where technicians immediately began making copies of all the computer files for distribution to various intelligence agencies — the CIA, NSA, DIA, "anyone who would have some perspective on what was found."

Individual files found in the house are being examined by several agencies at the same time.

The FBI is maintaining custody of physical objects to study the items for fingerprints, DNA material or and anything else that could be of value, officials told NBC News.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: The compound

loading photos...
  1. Pakistani boys while demolition takes place on the compound where Osama bin Laden was slain in 2011 in the northwestern town of Abbottabad on Feb. 26, 2012.

    More photos from Abbottabad one year after Osama bin Laden (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. An aerial view shows the residential area of Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. commandos. (Asif Hassan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A general view of the town of Abbottabad, May 6. Bin Laden was living in a large house close to a military academy in this garrison town, a two-and-a-half hour-drive from the capital, Islamabad. (Khaqan Khawer / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami rally to condemn the killing of bin Laden, in Abbottabad on May 6. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A Pakistani woman photographs her daughter on May , at a gate of the compound where bin Laden was caught and killed. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. School girls pass by armed Pakistani policemen guarding the sealed entrance to the compound in Abbottabad, May 5, in which bin Laden had been living. (MD Nadeem / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Part of a damaged helicopter rests in the compound after U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed bin Laden, May 2, in a photo made available on May 4. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Boys herd sheep past the compound where U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad May 5. (Akhtar Soomro / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Pakistani security officials arrive at the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad on Wednesday, May 4. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Local residents gather outside a burned section of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A Pakistani police officer gestures at a checkpoint along a road leading to a house where bin Laden was captured and killed in Abbottabad. Area residents were still confused and suspicious about bin Laden's death, which took place before dawn on Monday. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pakistani children look out from a high vantage point at bin Laden's compound on Tuesday, May 3. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Pakistan army troops remove canvas screens from outside the compound's house. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Neighbors and news media gather around the compound, right, after authorities ease security around the property. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A satellite image, taken June 15, 2005, shows the Abbottabad compound, center, where bin Laden was killed in on Monday. (DigitalGlobe via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A Pakistani soldier secures the compound. (T. Mughal / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The compound is seen in flames after it was attacked early May 2 in this still image taken from cellphone video footage. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Part of a damaged U.S. MH-60 helicopter lies the compound. The helicopter was destroyed by U.S. forces after a mechanical failure left it unable to take off. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A still image from video obtained by ABC News shows blood stains in the interior of the house where bin Laden was killed. (ABC News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Aerial views released by the Department of Defense show the area in Abbottabad in 2004, left, before the house was built, and in 2011, right. (Department of Defense via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A graphic released by the Department of Defense shows the compound where bin Laden was killed. (Department of Defense via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Pakistani soldiers and police officers patrol near the house, background, where bin Laden had lived. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The hideout of bin Laden is seen the day after his death. (Farooq Naeem / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Students look toward the compound from a nearby religious school in Abbottabad. (Faisal Mahmood / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Pakistani security officials survey the walls of the compound where bin Laden was killed. The outer walls were between 10 and 18 feet high. (MD Nadeem / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Pakistani soldiers stand guard near the compound May 2. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Boys collect pieces of metal from a wheat field outside bin Laden's house, seen in the background, on May 3. People showed off small parts of what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter that the U.S. says malfunctioned and was blown up by the American team as it retreated. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Pakistani security officials stand guard at the main entrance to the compound on May 3. (MD Nadeem / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. An image from video seized from the walled compound of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, and released by the U.S. Department of Defense, shows Osama bin Laden watching TV. He is said to have spent his last weeks in a house divided, amid wives riven by suspicions. On the top floor, sharing his bedroom, was his youngest wife and favorite. The trouble came when his eldest wife showed up and moved into the bedroom on the floor below. (Department of Defense via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image:
    Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (29) After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound - The compound
  2. Image:
    Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (81) After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound - World reaction
  3. Image:
    Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (81) World reacts to death of Osama bin Laden - World reaction
  4. Image:
    Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (29) World reacts to death of Osama bin Laden - The compound
  5. Image: Protest against US drone strikes in Pakistan
    Shahzaib Akber / EPA
    Slideshow (154) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2013
  6. Image: PAKISTAN-NEW YEAR
    Arif Ali / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (160) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2012
  1. Image: A man, injured from the site of a bomb explosion, is brought to a hospital for treatment in Quetta
    Naseer Ahmed / Reuters
    Slideshow (193) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2011
  2. Image: Supporters of various religious parties take a part in a rally in support of the Pakistani blasphemy law in Karachi
    Athar Hussain / Reuters
    Slideshow (123) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2010
  3. Image: Activists of Pakistani Islamist organisa
    Tariq Mahmood / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (56) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2009

Timeline: A timeline of Osama bin Laden's life

Considered enemy No. 1 by the U.S., the Saudi millionaire is the perpetrator behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Click on key dates to learn more about the founder of al-Qaida, an international terror network.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments