U.S. officials put on edge after car wash attendant anonymously linked to bin Laden, bombing plans - APTN NewsAPTN News

U.S. officials put on edge after car wash attendant anonymously linked to bin Laden, bombing plans

THE U.S. DIPLOMATIC CABLES

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
OTTAWA-A part-time security guard was put under 24 hour surveillance after the RCMP received an anonymous letter claiming the man was linked to Osama bin Laden and planned to bomb the Montreal Metro system along with the U.S. embassy, according to a “secret” diplomatic cable obtained by APTN National News.

Security was immediately increased at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, consulates and all U.S. government facilities in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, Vancouver, Quebec City once the RCMP telephoned to alert U.S. officials to the threat, according to the Dec. 4, 2004 cable issued by the Ottawa embassy.

The cable offers a glimpse into how sensitive U.S. officials were post-Sept. 11 whenever bin Laden’s name was linked to even unsubstantiated allegations of possible terror attacks.

After a years-long manhunt, bin Laden was finally killed by U.S. forces during a raid on his safe-house in Pakistan, U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday.

Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, among other terror strikes.

RCMP investigators told U.S. officials they doubted the threat was “credible,” according to the cable, but it did not temper American concern.  The RCMP was asked why investigators only contacted U.S. officials on Dec. 3, when the letter had been received on Nov. 29.

“RCMP stated such letters are received frequently and although serious, doubt this particular threat to be credible…(a U.S. official) Did note that few letters are received specifically mentioning the bombing of the U.S. embassy…Inquired as to why the RCMP waited several days before providing such information. RCMP…unable or unwilling to respond, but the indication seemed to be they were proceeding appropriately.”

APTN obtained the cable as part of a batch of confidential and secret diplomatic cables provided by whistleblower website WikiLeaks. CBC-Radio Canada also obtained the same cables.

WikiLeaks released hundreds of unclassified U.S. diplomatic cables originating from Canada on its website last week.

The cable stated that the RCMP received the anonymous letter, which was written in French, at their Montreal headquarters. The letter claimed to have overheard the man, a Tunisian immigrant, detailing a possible plot to bomb the Montreal Metro system on Dec. 15 and the U.S. embassy on Jan. 10.

APTN decided not to publish the man’s name because he appears to not have been charged with any crime.

The letter claimed the man, who also worked as a car wash attendant, was “affiliated” with Osama Bin Laden.

“According to the drafter (the man) is affiliated with Usama Bin Laden (sic),” said the cable. “Drafter further provided cellular telephone number for (the man).”

The cable stated that the RCMP identified and located the man who had arrived in Canada in 2000 and had applied for Canadian citizenship. The RCMP said his immigration file, however, would be denied, but, citing privacy laws, provided no details on why, the cable stated.

He was put under “24/7” surveillance while the RCMP requested name traces from U.S. authorities, including the F.B.I.

The RCMP also said they planned to arrest the man, who had no criminal history and was no known to Canadian authorities, and put him through a polygraph test.

The cable stated that U.S. officials wanted to be present at the interrogation if the man was arrested.

The U.S. embassy in Ottawa also contacted the U.S. embassy in Tunisia to find out if the man had a criminal record in that country.

“(He) does not appear to be watch-listed or identified in F.B.I. databases,” said the cable. “Ottawa attempted to search ink system in an effort to determine possible existence of an application by (the man) to enter the United Sates…Ottawa will continue to solicit information from RCMP and advise appropriately.”

jbarrera@aptn.ca

The Cable

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