Bin Laden 'tried to kill G8 leaders in Genoa'
Staff and agencies
Wednesday September 26, 2001
The president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, was aware of a plot by Osama bin Laden to kill the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations during the G8 summit in Genoa, it emerged today.
Speaking to French television, Mr Mubarak said he was informed of a threat in the weeks before the summit to attack the city using an "aeroplane stuffed with explosives".
The Egyptian intelligence service passed on the warning to their American counterparts.
The Genoa G8 summit, held in July this year, was staged under unprecedented security. Many of the defences - including a steel ring around the summit venue - were intended to protect world leaders from anti-globalisation protesters, but others, such as missile batteries at the airport, were used to guard against terrorists.
Gianfranco Fini, Italy's deputy prime minister, earlier confirmed that his government installed the anti-aircraft missiles on the basis of intelligence reports.
"Many people joked about the Italian intelligence force. But actually they had information that in Genoa there was the hypothesis of an attack on the American president with the use of an aeroplane," he said.
"That is why we closed the airspace above Genoa and installed anti-aircraft missiles. Those who joked should now reflect."
On Saturday, the Guardian revealed that bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military action against them two months ago, raising the possibility that the attacks on New York and Washington were pre-emptive strikes in an escalating conflict between bin Laden and the west.
A senior US security official told the New York Times that the volume of warnings from foreign intelligence agencies was often so great that serious threats were frequently difficult to separate from false alarms.
The White House, which has a policy not to discuss threats on the president, declined to comment.