Friday December 7 12:56 PM ET

Egypt Leader Says He Warned America

By JOE PANOSSIAN, Associated Press Writer

Original Link: 
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011207/wl/attacks_mubarak_1.html

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (news - web sites) says he warned the United States that ``something would happen'' 12 days before the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

In an interview published Friday by the left-wing Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, Mubarak also said it would be a grave mistake if Israeli forces were to kill Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites).

Mubarak did not reveal how he learned in late August of a possible terror attack on the United States. He said he was taken aback by the scale of the Sept. 11 attacks, when hijackers seized four U.S. airliners and crashed two into New York's World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon (news - web sites). The fourth plane crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside during an apparent struggle in the cockpit.

``We expected that something was going to happen and informed the Americans. We told them,'' Mubarak said. He did not mention a U.S. response.

``But nobody expected the event would be of such enormity. We did not know that they would hit this target or that, and we were all surprised when planes with passengers on board hit the twin towers,'' Mubarak said.

Washington has said that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA (news - web sites) issued a warning that bin Laden was pressing for terrorist action against Americans. The warning was based on new intelligence but did not have specific information on the type of attack, a date or a location.

Mubarak also commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recent Israeli airstrikes have hit targets within 100 yards of Arafat's offices.

Mubarak said that if Israel were to kill Arafat, it would create a vacuum in the Palestinian leadership that none of the ``six to eight contenders'' would be able to fill.

``Leaderships would emerge that would vie for popularity and compete in staging violent operations, internally and externally, against Israel, plunging (the region) into chaos. They (Israel) should understand this and know that it is dangerous,'' Mubarak said.

``And what would happen after Arafat? Who would Israel hold responsible for (acts of violence) - the leaders of Hamas or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine?'' Mubarak said, referring to two militant Palestinian factions.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed 25 people and wounded scores in Jerusalem and Haifa last weekend. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Israeli tourism minister in October.
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