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Chiefs planned for jet attack

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From Andy Lines, Us Editor In New York

MILITARY chiefs were so convinced terrorists could fly a plane into the Pentagon that they planned for an attack.

Almost 11 months before the September 11 suicide mission killed 189 people at America's defence headquarters, they carried out a detailed emergency exercise.

US authorities have consistently claimed they had no idea al-Qaeda was thinking of crashing planes into buildings. President Bush insists no one ever had considered such a devastating attack.

But a report reveals that between October 24 and 26 2000, military planners held an exercise to prepare for "incidents including a passenger plane crashing into the Pentagon".

The report in an internal Pentagon newspaper reads like an account of what actually happened: "The fire and smoke from the downed aircraft billows from the courtyard.

"Defence Protective Services Police seal the crash site. Army medics, nurses and doctors scramble to organise aid ... Fire Department chief dispatches his equipment."

Democrats said the Mass Casualty Exercise added to proof that different arms of government did not know what others were doing.

Senator Bob Graham, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "We have a lot of information coming but it is not going to the same source for analysis.

"So A knows part one, B knows part two and C knows part three but nobody knows all the parts."

Pentagon emergency planning spokesman Glen Flood said: "We had been aware there could be possible aeroplane accidents and we have had various tabletop exercises."

The hijackers of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania intended to hit the White House, it was revealed.

White House sources said the information had come from Abu Zubaydah, a senior al-Qaeda terrorist who is being questioned at an undisclosed destination.

The White House faced more embarrassment after the independent Centre for Immigration Studies said at least half the 48 Muslim militants linked to terrorist plots in the US since 1993 had broken or abused immigration laws to stay in America.

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