(JTA) — Al-Qaida had planned to carry out a massive terrorist attack on Israeli dance clubs in 2002 but was thwarted with the help of U.S. intelligence operatives, a former FBI researcher said.
Ali Soufan, who with other agents had monitored al-Qaida for the FBI both before the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and afterward, said the information was obtained by the operatives during interrogations of a Palestinian man apprehended in Afghanistan, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Acharonot reported Friday in an article about Soufan.
Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn was being held at a CIA site allegedly for fighting alongside al-Qaida there.
According to the article, the attack was in the advanced planning stages when the information came in, leading to arrests. Al-Qaida estimated that the attacks — to happen simultaneously at several clubs — would have killed about 200 people.
It was the only large-scale attempt by the terrorist group to strike in Israel, according to the article.
Muhammad Husayn let the plan slip when he told Soufan that he believed he had been captured because one of the attack’s planners in Israel had talked. At that stage, however, U.S. intelligence was unaware of any big plans for an al-Qaida attack in Israel, Soufan said.
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