Captured al-Qaeda operational coordinator Khalid Sheik Mohammed told interrogators that the group had identified gasoline stations and bridges in the continental U.S. as targets for possible attack.
According to government intelligence reports made available to Oil Express, an e-mail newsletter produced by Oil Price Information Service, the intelligence reports and an apparent hijack attempt on a tanker in Indiana last month were what prompted the FBI and EPA warnings issued last week to oil marketers.
Mohammed told U.S. investigators that alleged al-Qaeda operative Majid Khan had suggested attacking stations with a timed explosive device placed inside the underground tanks. However, Mohammed thought that kind of attack would only cause a fire, and instead ordered Majid to gather information about stations, tanker trucks and similar facilities, say the reports.
Mohammed also told a relative of Khan to get specialized machine tools that could be used to loosen the nuts and bolts of suspension bridges in the New York City area.
According to intelligence officials, several detained al-Qaeda members have commented during interviews on Mohammad's interest in attacking stations or bridges, but none admitted to knowing of any advanced plans to do so.