Genoa and Mubarak's Warning
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Many Governments warned America about impending attacks before 9/11; everyone knows that. But were these warnings as accurate as is sometimes claimed? We don’t know, but it might be wise to wait for confirmation before you decide. Here’s why.

In July of 2001 the G8 summit was held in Genoa, Italy. There were reports of terrorist threats against Bush and other leaders at the time, so the Italians took security particularly seriously, even installing surface to air missiles as a protection against attack.

Italy had presumably received a warning of some kind, and a clue as to one possible source appeared post 9/11, when President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak gave some interviews in France:

In an interview on French television on Monday, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt spoke in specific terms about the threat, saying that ''on June 13 of this year, we learned of a communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate George W. Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Italy.''

''It was a well-known piece of information,'' Mr. Mubarak added in the interview broadcast by the network France 3...

The most specific warning that Mr. bin Laden planned an attack apparently came from Egyptian intelligence sources.

In his interview with Le Figaro, published late last week, Mr. Mubarak said: ''We had communicated to the Americans certain information from the video made by bin Laden on the 13th of June. It spoke of assassinating President Bush and other heads of state in Rome. It was a question of an airplane stuffed with explosives. These precautions then had been taken.''

The leader of a country speaks out and tells of a warning he’d passed on, just as happened with regard to the 9/11 attacks. Sounds plausible, and if that’s all you’d read then you might not think twice about it. But the same article also had this to say about the bin Ladin video:

However, people who have viewed the tape say there is no reference on it to any airplane stuffed with explosives, no specific threat to kill the President, and no mention of an attack by aircraft.

Curious. And it only got worse.

Over the weekend, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Egypt had passed on information to Washington about a G-8 threat following a June 13 video made by bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

He had spoken of assassinating President Bush and other heads of state," Mubarak told the French daily Le Figaro.

"But no one had imagined that Boeings filled with passengers would slam into buildings,'' he told Le Figaro.

In June, just before the Genoa gathering, the head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service also said it was investigating apparent threats on Bush by bin Laden, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The Secret Service said then that it was aware of the reports and would take "the same precautions it always takes when the president travels abroad."

Bush made an official visit to Rome after the Genoa meeting, but other world leaders did not.

Mubarak later added a disclaimer to his comments Monday night, telling France-3 Television that he had only heard of the bin Laden threat from published reports.

"It was publicly said. I didn't hear it privately — it was in the newspaper," he said.

Mubarak later added a disclaimer to his comments Monday night, telling France-3 Television that he had only heard of the bin Laden threat from published reports.

"It was publicly said. I didn't hear it privately — it was in the newspaper," he said.,2933,35162,00.html

Mubarak warned the US based on something he read in a newspaper? This doesn’t sound plausible. And it still doesn’t explain why others say the video he mentioned didn’t contain any references to “an airplane stuffed with explosives”.

Don’t think you only have to work out an explanation for this, though, because there’s another complication:

The Italian authorities' security measures also include the positioning of surface-to-air missiles at Genoa's Christopher Columbus airport. Dubbed the SPADA, the land-based system consists of missiles capable of a range of 15 kilometres (9.3 miles).

The ministry said the decision to install the missiles is not excessive.

"There's no excessive precaution," military spokesman Colonel Alberto Battaglini told Reuters. "The measure, which was planned by the previous government, may seem open to criticism, but in reality it is merely to act as a deterrent against any aerial incursion during the summit."

The quote here says the missiles were “planned by the previous Government”. Berlusconi was elected Prime Minister of Italy on May 15th 2001, though, so if true the warning must have appeared some time before that. And at least four weeks before Mubarak saw the bin Ladin video, which strongly suggests that had nothing to do with the “aerial incursion” warnings at all.

Let’s make this clear, we’re not proposing any great theory based on these anomalies. There could be a perfectly innocent explanation for all of it. Maybe Egypt did warn the US about potential aerial attacks, for instance, but from a source they were unable to talk about. Mubarak spun a line about this in an interview, maybe to demonstrate his US-friendly position in “The War On Terror”, got caught out and had to come up with a quick excuse. Problem solved.

What is apparent, though, is you can’t necessarily take claims of warnings like this at face value. Because when the details are revealed, what looked like a simple intelligence warning can prove not quite so straightforward, after all.

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