Congressional report: Al Qaida trained up to 120,000

Monday, July 14, 2003

WASHINGTON The United States has concluded that Al Qaida has trained up to 120,000 insurgents in a global campaign against the West.

The assertion is contained in a classified report of a congressional investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide strikes by Al Qaida in New York and Washington. The report, which could be released as early as August, is said to provide new details on Al Qaida and its supporters in Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Sen. Bob Graham, a former chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and candidate for president, released some details of the congressional report, which remains under review by the CIA and FBI. Graham said the report concludes that Al Qaida has trained between 70,000 and 120,000 people in what he termed were terrorist tactics.

Graham and other U.S. senators have accused the Bush administration of withholding the release of the congressional report. The Florida Democrat said the assessment of Al Qaida's training program was approved by the Bush administration and the U.S. intelligence community, Middle East Newsline reported.

The report said many of those trained were sent to Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States to serve as operatives and sleepers. Most of the Al Qaida operatives were trained in a network of camps in Afghanistan from 1995 to 2001.

"We have to assume that as those people were placed around the world, some were placed inside the United States," Graham said in a U.S. television interview on Sunday. "Some of them are in the United States today."

"We allowed Al Qaida to regroup and regenerate," Graham, citing the U.S. war in Iraq, said. "They've conducted a series of very sophisticated operations, thus far none of it in the United States, but seven Americans were killed in Saudi Arabia."

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