London: Osama bin Laden led al-Qaeda was planning a number of "major attacks" on western interests in the weeks leading to 9/11, including the morning itself, Britain`s intelligence agency had MI5 warned the government, a new history of the security services has said.
In a memo from July 6, 2001, MI5 said increasing reports were "sufficient to conclude that UBL (Osama bin Laden) and those that share his agenda are currently well advanced in operational planning for a number of major attacks on western interests."
Memos circulated to senior figures showed increasing concern right up to the moment the terrorist leader launched his 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing nearly 3,000 people, The Daily Telegraph reported.
MI5 had discounted the threat from Islamic extremism six years earlier and did not believe America was vulnerable, the files of the security services have indicated.
Christopher Andrew, a Cambridge historian, was given access to all MI5 files since it began in 1909 for Defence of the Realm, the first authorised history of an intelligence
Prof Andrews said: "Similar Security Service warnings to Whitehall of imminent attack continued at intervals... up to and including the morning of September 11." The
intelligence did not, however, point to a serious attack in the US or to hijacked aircraft.