Al Qaeda: Puzzle Pieces

Investigators looking into Al Qaeda's global network now appear to be making breakthroughs. U.S. officials confirm that key leads have come from one Osama bin Laden aide in U.S. custody: Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi, who reportedly ran Al Qaeda's Khalden training camp in Afghanistan. Information he gave U.S. interrogators helped authorities in Yemen foil a planned attack on the American Embassy there. Unconfirmed reports say al-Libi also provided the inside dope on trainees at the Khalden camp, including indicted shoe-bomber Richard Reid, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Intelligence reports also indicate that over several years, a number of unemployed Russian weapons scientists traveled to Afghanistan for job interviews with Al Qaeda. And in dogged pursuit of the money trail, U.S. gumshoes have traced a $14,000 wire transfer (received by suspected 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui, who has also plead not guilty to all charges) to a mysterious Saudi suspected to be the paymaster for the September 11 attacks. Investigators say that Moussaoui was sent the money by Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Hamburg terrorist-cell member.

Investigators think that al-Shibh became a support officer, backstopping the hijackers when his application for a visa to attend a U.S. flight school was rejected. Investigators say that the money transferred by al-Shibh to Moussaoui last August had earlier been wired to al-Shibh from the United Arab Emirates. The sender was identified as Hashim Abdurahman. But the Western Union receipt for one of the money transfers lists a phone number for Mustapha Ahmed Al Hawsawi, the Saudi citizen believed by U.S. authorities to be the 9-11 attack's operational financier.

Bin Laden may well have escaped, be dead or be seriously ill, as Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf put it last week. But the net is clearly growing tighter around his men.

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Al Qaeda: Puzzle Pieces | News