After the worst terrorist attack in American history Tuesday, suspicion fell on Osama bin Laden, the shadowy Saudi exile, as the lead suspect. The Associated Press and Reuters carried reports by a London-based Arab journalist that bin Laden's followers warned his newspaper by telephone three weeks ago that a major attack on the West was coming soon.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said U.S. officials learned of an intercepted telephone conversation between two bin Laden associates "who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit."
Bush administration officials and other experts said the millionaire Saudi exile was their top suspect. "This apparently was well-planned over a number of years -- planned by real pros and experts," Hatch said Tuesday. "Their belief is, at least initially, that this looks like Osama bin Laden's signature."
Bin Laden, who tops the FBI's most wanted list, is best known to Americans as the mastermind of the attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, and last year's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
Afghani officials have denied involvement by bin Laden, and some observers warned against jumping to conclusions about who was responsible for Tuesday's carnage, recalling that Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City attack in 1995 was first blamed on Islamic extremists.
Below is a list of recent Salon stories about Osama bin Laden:
The invisible man
As the African embassy bombing trial begins, bin Laden casts a long shadow.
By Ted Rose [Feb. 12, 2001]
For every target, a bomber
Billions of dollars are being devoted to preparing for a possible terrorist attack on the United States, but no one can say when or if such an attack will occur.
By Douglas McGray [Nov. 1, 1999]
How to turn a criminal to a hero
The U.S. strikes against Osama bin Laden have unleashed a backlash among moderate Arabs already fearful that "globalization" is another word for U.S. imperialism.
By Jonathan Broder [Aug. 26, 1998]
Is bin Laden a terrorist mastermind -- or a fall guy?
The Clinton administration accuses Saudi renegade Osama bin Laden of being directly responsible for almost every terrorist act of the last decade. But where's the evidence?
By Loren Jenkins [Aug. 27, 1998]