Al Qaida originally planned to crash planes into American nuclear power plants, two of Osama bin Laden’s top aides said in an interview released this week by the Arab television station Al-Jazeera. A reporter interviewed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 38, who headed al Qaida’s military wing, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, 30, who shared an apartment in Germany with lead hijacker Mohammed Atta, in June at their hideout in Pakistan. The two said that the plan to use planes as weapons began in 1999. The original targets were nuclear power plants, but the plotters feared that the nuclear reaction “would go out of control.” Al Qaida then set four new targets: the two towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol building. “The attacks were designed to cause as many deaths as possible and to be a big slap for America on American soil,” Khalid said.
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