President Bill Clinton said Wednesday that US and Jordan have worked together to disclose alleged plans by an organization led by Saudi suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden to bomb crowds celebrating New Year's Eve in the United States.
Clinton told a commencement ceremony at a Coast Guards training college in New London that US millennium celebrations of December 31 had been targeted by "a plot to place large bombs at locations where Americans might gather."
He said the US and Jordan's security services, "learned this plot was linked to terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and the organization created by Osama bin Laden,"
"A short time later, a customs agent in Seattle discovered bomb materials being smuggled in to the US -- the same materials used by bin Laden in other places," he said.
As he spoke, the White House released details of an extra 300 million dollars of public spending to be channeled into the US government's drive against terrorism "applying lessons learned from the counter-terrorism effort undertaken during the Millennium celebration events."
In the incident to which Clinton referred, US officials in December arrested Algerian national Ahmed Ressam at the border between Canada and the state of Washington.
Ressam has been charged with trying to smuggle explosive materials from Canada into the United States.
Earlier this week, a court in Amman continued hearings on a case in which 28 people are accused of having links with Bin Laden and planning attacks on tourist sites in Jordan last December.
Saudi dissident Bin Laden, currently based in Afghanistan, is wanted by the United States in connection with bomb attacks in 1998 on US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed more than 200 people.
The White House said in a statement that the proposal for 300 million dollars of extra spending on security would be presented to Congress as a fully offset budget amendment for the year 2001.
The money would be used, among other things, to install more day and night security cameras along the border with Canada, to increase the number of Department of Justice legal staff working on the prosecution of terrorists, and to set up an interdepartmental team dedicated to finding out how terrorist organizations fund themselves, it said.
Clinton told the freshly qualified coast guards that developments in IT technology made cooperation on security across the world increasingly important.
"International terrorism is not new, but it is becoming increasingly sophisticated," he said.
"Available weapons are becoming more destructive and more miniaturized, just as the size of cell phones and computers is shrinking."
Clinton continued, "You should understand that the same process of miniaturization will find its way into the development of biological and chemical, and maybe even nuclear weapons." -- NEW LONDON, Connecticut, (AFP)
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