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Other unheeded warnings before 9/11?

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The Bush administration may hesitate to give Arab allies public credit, but Washington investigators should consider warnings that at least two friendly Arab intelligence services sent to Washington just weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Jordan, beyond a doubt, and Morocco, with some certainty, advised US and allied intelligence that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorists were preparing airborne terrorist operations in the continental United States.

What Washington's investigators should do now, after verifying the authenticity and content of those messages, is discover how seriously and at what levels of government, if any, they were considered or shared. And what, if any, operational conclusions were drawn.

First, the Jordan case: Since the early 1990s, the kingdom's well-organized and efficient intelligence service, called the GID (General Intelligence Division), reporting directly to the king, carefully tracked CIA- and Pakistani-trained Arab guerrillas both in and outside of Jordan. Many had fought in the victorious war to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Thousands of Arab veterans – many trained in Muslim religious schools as well as in the arts of war, sabotage, and terrorism – returned to Jordan and their other homelands. They organized Islamist uprisings, aided civil wars (Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, the Philippines, Indonesia), and carried out terrorism (cinemas in Jordan; the World Trade Center in New York in 1993).

Jordan's GID captured and brought to justice a number of guerrillas who had become active terrorists, and kept a watch on those who did not. The GID aided the United States government in countless ways. In cooperation with the US, it foiled multiple attacks on Jordanian tourist sites planned for New Year's Eve 1999. It helped US law enforcement apprehend Al Qaeda and other operatives who had reached the US or Canada and had formed active or "sleeper" cells there.

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