According to an AFPS
report, Al Qaeda terrorists were planning to fly a plane into the
tallest building on the West Coast not long after they'd launched
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington.
The terrorists' target was a notable Los Angeles office
building, said President Bush, during a speech given at the
National Guard Association of the United States' headquarters.
The 73-story Los Angeles office building, the tallest structure
west of the Mississippi River, was called the Library Tower at the
time of the terrorist plot. It was renamed US Bank Tower in
Bush said the scheme involved terrorists using shoe bombs to
hijack an aircraft that would then be flown into the skyscraper.
The plot was thwarted in early 2002, Bush said, when a Southeast
Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative who was in on the
and other intelligence operations made clear the intended target
and how al Qaeda hoped to execute it," Bush said.
"This critical intelligence helped other allies capture the
ringleaders and other known operatives who had been recruited for
Bush said the ringleader of the West Coast plot was Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, who was al-Qaeda's military chief at the time.
Mohammed was later captured in Pakistan in March 2003, Bush
Mohammed had planned to employ members of JI, an
al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group located in Southeast Asia, for
the Los Angeles operation, Bush said. The al Qaeda chief wanted
young South Asian men rather than Arabs to conduct the operation,
he said, so as not to arouse as much suspicion.
Bush said the leader of JI was a terrorist called Hambali who'd
recruited key operatives for the plot who'd been trained in
terrorist camps in Afghanistan. The recruits met with Osama bin
Laden to get their marching orders, he said, and then began
preparations for the ill-fated West Coast attack.
"The West Coast plot had been thwarted," Bush said. "Our efforts
did not end there. In the summer of 2003 our partners in Southeast
Asia conducted another successful manhunt that led to the capture
of the terrorist Hambali."
Today, al Qaeda and its
affiliates remain determined and dangerous, but they are weakened
thanks to cooperative anti-terror operations like the one that
exposed the West Coast plot, Bush said.
"It took the combined efforts of several countries to break up
this plot," the president said. "By working together, we took
dangerous terrorists off the streets.
"By working together, we stopped a catastrophic attack on our
The president, a former Texas Air National Guard fighter pilot,
also viewed the unveiling of a bronze bust cast in his image that
was presented in his honor at the event.