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News about International Human Trafficking

U.N. Report


May 14, 2003

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - AP World News: Up to 1 million people - most of them young women and girls - are victims of human trafficking each year and most are forced into prostitution, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between 700,000 and 1 million people fall victim to trafficking each year, said Antonio Maria Costa, the office's director. The number continues to rise, he added.

Most trafficking victims end up in Germany, the United States and Italy, said Kristiina Kangaspunta, a program officer in U.N. office for drug control and prevention.

The Netherlands was fourth and Japan fifth on a list of top destination countries based on an analysis of a new U.N. database that gathers information about trafficking, Kangaspunta said.

Russia, Ukraine and Thailand were identified as the top three countries of origin for trafficking victims, while Poland, Montenegro and Hungary were listed as the top three trafficking transit areas.

Kangaspunta released the lists Tuesday, the first day of the 12th session of the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which is to focus on human trafficking, especially in women and children. Costa, the other U.N. official, said most victims of human trafficking were women and children.

To compile the lists, U.N. researchers analyzed data compiled from 300 sources, including non-official ones such as non-governmental organizations, Kangaspunta said. So far, the database contains 3,000 cases of trafficking.

Costa told reporters he hoped to encourage cooperation to ``limit, curtail, reduce this very modern form of slavery.''

Evidence indicates that the flow of humans is from moderately poor countries to rich, industrialized ones, Costa said. Asia had become as much a destination for victims as a source, he added, also noting that Arab countries were emerging as so-called destination countries.

Only 4 percent of trafficking victims were men, and 50 percent were children, Kangaspunta said. Many of those were forced into slave labor, said officials.

Though a serious crime, trafficking is as underreported as bicycle thefts or burglaries, said Kevin Bates, a consultant to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime on human trafficking.

That's because victims who manage to escape, are freed or released often are reluctant to report the crime to police, fearing that they will be sent back home - often to poverty.

``Their status as victims is not given precedence over their status as illegal immigrants,'' Bates said.

The United Nations is encouraging countries to allow victims to remain in the countries they have been brought to, but if repatriated they will be offered financial support and witness protection to encourage them to testify against traffickers, Costa said.

May 15, 2003

UN Human trafficking, especially in women and children, to be focus of UN Crime Commission meeting; 40-member body to hold twelfth session in Vienna from 13 - 22 May 2003

Human trafficking, especially in women and children, will be the focus of discussion at the twelfth session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice beginning today.

While there is a dearth of reliable statistics worldwide on human trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) newly-established global database, which focuses on such trends, allows for some general conclusions. The findings confirm that the majority of victims of human trafficking are women and children, and sexual exploitation is the most common form of such abuse. Persons are typically recruited from moderately poor countries, transported through countries which provide safe routes, and end up in more affluent parts of the world. Asia, the Former Soviet Republics and Africa are the major regions of origin. Also, some new specific insights have been gained, such as that Central Asia and Eastern Europe currently act mainly as a transit area for trafficked persons, or that Asia, excluding Japan, is now as much a source as a destination. The main destination regions can be found in the industrialized world and in Asia. The database was established under the Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings (GPAT) of the UNODC's Centre for International Crime Prevention.

The main topics to be discussed at the twelfth session are: (a) Trends in trafficking in human beings; (b)Investigating and prosecuting cases on trafficking in human beings: national and international law enforcement cooperation and assistance; and (c) Awareness raising and social intervention: victim support and the role of civil society.

In addition, a Workshop on "Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially in Women and Children: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications" will be held on 15 May. The workshop is being organized by the institutes of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme (CICP) network and coordinated by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

The current project portfolio of the CICP technical assistance programme is US $ 20 million. Of this total, US$ 3.1 million is allocated to human trafficking projects, US$ 2.7 million to anti-terrorism, US$ 2.4 million to the fight against transnational organized crime, and US$ 2.4 to anti-corruption work. US $ 8.8 million has been allocated to crime prevention and criminal justice projects, including a large programme for Afghanistan.

Get Tough! Self-Defense Tips For Women

Personal safety has become an issue of importance for everyone, and especially for women. Whether you're in your neighborhood or visiting a new city, follow these 10 tips and you'll have a much better chance of staying safe and not becoming a victim.

1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Self-defense begins with an awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker's likely strategies. You need to minimize the criminal's primary advantage, the advantage of surprise.

2. Trust Your Instincts or "Sixth Sense"
Utilize this powerful subconscious insight to avoid a people or situations that do not feel safe. If you think or sense an awkward situation, trust yourself; you're probably right.

3. Obtain Basic Self-Defense Training
Knowledge in advance is power. But you should evaluate the goals and practical usefulness of a self-defense program.

Ask these two questions:
-- Will the techniques taught be simple to apply under stress or an attack or will they be too complex to remember?
-- Will the program include simulated attacks so you can practice what you've learned?

4. Escape
Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window--do whatever you can to attract attention. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the attacker than if you run away.

5. Defend Yourself; It IS Your Right
You have both the moral and legal right to defend yourself, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn't struck. But retain the element of surprise--think quickly, strike quickly, and be forceful. You may only get one chance.

6. Carry Pepper Spray
Pepper spray can be a useful tool, but did you know that 15-20 percent of people are not incapacitated even by a full-face spray. Be careful of over-reliance on these tools. Experts say to trust your body and your wits (see point 2 above).

7. Be Wary of Home Invasion
Be very careful for whom you open your door, unless you know them or can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there. Common disguises for criminals include dressing as a repair person or even a police officer. Should someone break in while you are home, plan to go to a safe room, which you should consider equipping with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or a fire extinguisher.

8. Learn to Avoid Car-Jacking
When driving, lock all doors and keep windows up. Most car-jackings take place when vehicles are stopped at intersections. Criminals can approach from your blind spot and may pull you out of the driver's seat or jump into the passenger seat.

9. Be Careful While Traveling
Violent crimes against women can happen in any hotel. Attackers may emulate a hotel employee and obtain a pass key to the room or even push their way into a room. Be certain the person on the other side of the door is legitimate, and consider carrying a door wedge with you when you travel.

10. Stay Safe in Cyberspace
The Internet is educational and entertaining, but it also can be full of danger if one isn't careful. Always keep personal information, such as home address and phone number, confidential, and require family members to do the same.

As part of our on-going investigation into International Human Trafficking; we are concentrating international efforts toward answering this vital question: Where have all the children gone?
WE have suspicioned for some time that the vast number of children missing from within the Continental United States are un or under accounted for.
Many informants have told us: "Yes, they're going outside the country". Through fear, exact details have not been forth-coming.
Interpol confirms the effort to abduct young people and children for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation is an international problem controlled by organized crime.
Research is showing an exfiltration route from the Bahamas and Cuba toward the Middle East and Europe.
Do you have specific verifiable evidence for us in this devastating crime? You may submit your information with the assurance your name will not be mentioned by this Agency, if you prefer to remain anonymous. 
Our young people and our children are our future. If we don't protect them, who will?

Undercover police crack baby-selling racket

May 24 2003

Thousands of babies are being traded across Europe, reports Peter Fray, Herald Correspondent in Italy.

Baby M may never know the terrible truth of his birth, but the arrest of his Ukrainian mother and her cohorts in southern Italy has exposed a thriving secret trade in babies for adoption by Western couples and body parts for illegal transplants.

Baby M, born two weeks ago near the southern Italian port city of Bari, was sold for 350,000 ($624,000) by a Ukrainian-organised gang operating across Europe with close links to Italian organised crime.

But the buyers were undercover Italian carabinieri who infiltrated the gang, intercepted their conversations for months and, just after the baby's birth, scored a body blow against a trade which investigators believe may involve the sale of up 3000 babies a year.

Authorities and long-time campaigners against the growing traffic in babies, young children and women, mainly from Moldavia, Romania, the Ukraine and Albania, have heralded the operation as a vital strike against organised crime.

"This is the first time the carabinieri were able to nail the criminals and be able to have actual evidence of their discussions," an Italian MP, Tana de Zulueta, said. "We suspect this has happened many times before and gone undetected."


Four members of the gang, led by 36-year-old Ukrainian-born Nadia Tkachenko, and including the baby's 28-year-old mother, Oksana Fedanova, are awaiting trial on charges which include attempted enslavement, falsifying birth documents and currency and firearm offences.

They came to the attention of Italian organised crime investigators from the province of Foggia, north of Bari, early last year for drug-running activities tied to the Italian Mafia. . More than 20 murders have been linked to organised crime in the province in the past 11 months.

But late last year, the gang - three women and a man - asked undercover agents if they were interested in buying humans. By December, Tkachenko let it be known the gang had a "package" for delivery in May. The head of investigation, Colonel Claudio Pelella, said the agents were surprised "because they were working on the drugs and then this came up. We were very shocked - horrified, because children represent innocence. That was the scandal of it." The agents agreed to pay the first asking price for the baby - 50,000 euros - and, with permission from a prosecuting magistrate, Gianrico Carofiglio, set a trap to catch the Ukrainians red-handed and save the baby.

Fedanova, her in-house midwife, Olena Kaurova, 62, Tkachenko, and her bodyguard, Mykhaylo Mamot, 29, unsuspectingly kept the agents up to date on baby M's early progress. They even agreed to visit a gynaecologist, who was in on the sting, at a local hospital.

Now they each face up to six years in jail. The victims of 21st century slavery haunt the night streets across Europe, especially the back streets of Italy. Young women and girls in eastern Europe, barely 70 kilometres away by sea, a short speedboat trip across the Adriatic, or by road via Italy's northern borders, buy the promise of jobs and money in the West from organised gangs, enter illegally and end up sold into prostitution under threat of death.

Their children - the "mistakes" of their new profession - are prey to the gangs who, according to a campaigning priest, Father Cesare Lo Deserto, trade babies for body parts - mainly livers and corneas - to privately run clinics in Israel and Turkey, or offer them for adoption to Western couples with the money and contacts to bypass official waiting lists.

Actual figures are hard to come by, but he has received reports of livers and kidneys selling for between $US4000 ($6000) to $US6000.

A stout, tireless man, Father Cesare operates a refuge for trafficked women in San Foca, near Lecce, deep into Italy's heel. His refuge, Regina Pacis (Queen of Peace), is home to 70 women and their children. It is a heavily guarded fortress, floodlit by night and patrolled by armed carabinieri. He is under 24-hour protection against the gangs. For him, the Baby M case is proof of what women have been telling him about the trade in babies and minors for a long time. "I've been seeing this for years, but it's hard to get the evidence to stand up in court," he said. "In the Ukraine, they've said to me 'we've got five children and we have to sacrifice one for the other four'."

More recently, Father Cesare said the trend by traffickers had been to bring in childless women to Italy and then make them pregnant once they were in the West. He has taken his campaign into Moldavia with highway poster advertisements, calling on women to "say no" to traffickers. Women who arrive pregnant, such as Marta, 19, know they will not be allowed to keep their babies.

An Albanian, she arrived in southern Italy three months pregnant two years ago. Fortunately, her boat was met by police and, after a spell in custody, she was taken to Father Cesare. She and her toddler, Ana, have been there since. "I was in such fear," she said through an interpreter. "If they take my child, they take my life."

Fedanova, baby M's mother, appeared to have no such fear. Secretly taped conversations between her and police indicate she had little remorse about selling her unborn child to the agents, one of whom was posing as a lawyer acting on behalf of a childless couple.

At one point, an agent asks her: "You are sure want to sell your son." She replies, "Yes. I've decided." Then the Ukrainians decided their package would be worth more if two parties were bidding. They told the agents they had received an offer from another group. In the ensuing bidding war, Baby M's value rose to 350,000 euros - seven times the original price.

Colonel Pelella said the agents agreed to the higher price to guarantee they bought the baby and to give them control over his fate. "By January, they were very anxious about the life of the mother and to ensure the baby was born in the best way possible." As the birth neared, the agents convinced Fedanova and Kaurova to move into an apartment in Giovinazzo, a nondescript, former steel town about 20 kilometres north of Bari. It was here, after the mother and midwife had attended a celebration in Bari for Saint Nicholas, the Orthodox saint whose tomb rests in a local church, that baby M was born at home on May 9. Kaurova cut the cord with a kitchen knife.

The baby weighed 3.8 kilos and, in the flush of delivery, was named after one of the agents, whose first name begins with M. A few hours later, after Tkachenko had joined the birth group and demanded her money, the carabinieri raided the flat and arrested the three women. Bodyguard Mamot was arrested near Naples at the same time.

Authorities are reluctant to confirm that baby M could have ended up in the body parts trade. They did not want to raise the issue during the investigation because it would risk spooking the gang and putting the baby's life at risk. But they suspect the Ukrainians, especially Tkachenko, may have been involved in trading the organs of other children.

The case has had immediate impact on lawmakers.

Legislation proposed two years ago by de Zulueta, an opposition senator, aimed at stopping trafficking and the sale of human organs has been slowly moving through the Italian Parliament. In the the aftermath of the case, it has gained bipartisan support and is likely to be passed as a matter of urgency.

The new law will increase penalties for trafficking in humans and body parts to up to 30 years in jail and give investigators new powers to use phone taps, intercepts and other techniques. In the baby M case, police were allowed to use intercepts only because it began as a drug case.

The Ukrainian gang members face between five and six years in jail. But magistrate Carofiglio, who, under the Italian system, prosecutes the investigation and the legal case, appears to be softening towards Fedanova, the mother. She did not produce the baby on demand, he said, and had first wanted to have an abortion, only to be persuaded to keep the child by Tkachenko.

Baby M is unlikely ever to meet his mother or her conspirators. He has already been adopted out to a Italian family. But one day he may read the inside account of the investigation. Magistrate Carofiglio, a novelist with a growing reputation in the crime genre, is thinking about putting it all into a book.

Five Urgent Steps to take IMMEDIATELY to
Protect Yourself from Terrorism and Martial Law


#1. Create a 30-day emergency supply of safe drinking water. Water is your most vital commodity. You can live only a few days without it. So its imperative that you immediately create an emergency supply of safe water.

One gallon of safe water per person per day is the bare minimum for survival. Most surplus stores can sell you inexpensive, 50-gallon plastic drums. Properly chlorinated tap water can be safety stored for up to three months. Water purification tablets (vital in a crisis) are also readily available from many surplus and earthquake supply stores.

#2. Stockpile essential medicines and life-saving antibiotics NOW. In the event of a biological or radiological attack anywhere in the U.S., the government will likely take control of all medical supplies.

This will lead to nationwide shortages and rationing, making it impossible for you to get the medications you and your family depend on.

Therefore, you should immediately ask your doctor to prescribe an emergency supply of your regular medicines PLUS preventive antibiotics which can be used to treat the most likely terrorist bio-weaponsanthrax and plague.

#3. Consider getting your family vaccinated for smallpox. As explained earlier, a few terrorists on planes could create a nationwide plague before authorities were even aware of it. Be sure to consult with your doctor about potential risks.

#4. Set up an independent way of heating your home. This is particularly important if you live in a very cold area of the U.S. Even a few days without heat could be life threatening.

Good alternatives include pellet stoves and gasoline generators. Last winter I bought a 5,000-watt Honda AC generator from Home Depot. My total cost, including installation directly into my homes electrical system, came to about $1,200. This little generator simultaneously powers two big refrigerators, my burners, microwave, lights, one TV, a computer, and a couple of electric heaters. A few gallons of gasoline give me power all day.

#5. Create an emergency hoard of gold and cash. If a terrorist attack forces you to flee your home or a terrorist hacker attack disrupts our banking system, you will definitely need cash and/or silver and gold. Make sure you have enough money to live on for at least three monthsand preferably for six.

These five steps will help you in a crisis. They could even save your life. But they're just the beginning.

120 Cities Most at Risk
Of Terrorist Attacks


For the past few years, the federal government has been providing training and assistance to police and emergency response workers in the 120 cities considered most at risk of terrorist attacks. A complete list of those cities appears at the end of this report.

As you will see, the list includes major government centers (Philadelphia, Miami, Sacramento, Washington, D.C.), cities with extensive industry (Detroit, Houston, San Jose), major business centers (Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia), important media centers (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.), major seaports (Newport News, Oakland, San Diego, Tampa), and important military facilities (Colorado Springs, Honolulu, Long Beach, Norfolk, San Francisco).

The federal government is providing extensive training for police and emergency workers in these 120 cities, including preparation for conventional (e.g., bomb), biological, chemical, and radiological (dirty bomb) attacks. However ...

Are the At Risk Cities Now Prepared?

The short answer is no, they are not. So if you live in or within 50 miles of these cities, you should consider yourself at significant risk for the duration of the War on Terror, which President Bush says could last as long as 50 years.

Fifty miles should be considered the minimal safe distance from an at risk city. The reason is that in event of even a small radiological or nuclear attack (5-20 kiloton weapon), lethal radiation and fallout will be carried by prevailing winds at least that far. In plain English, if the winds are blowing away from you, you will probably survive if you are 10-20 miles away. However, if winds are blowing toward you, you will probably be dead in a few days. Similarly, in event of a major biological attack, winds and fleeing survivors could easily carry pathogens at least 50 miles.

In the event a more serious attack, you may need to be as much as 100-300 miles away from a target city to survive.

While the government is now attempting to train emergency personnel in the 120 cities at greatest risk, please recognize it will take many years before most cities are even minimally prepared. Even then, government assistance is absolutely no guarantee that there will be enough drugs, water and food to go around for everyone in the event of a radiological, nuclear, or biological attack, which could put hundreds of thousands, even millions of people at risk. In many cases, the consequences will be nationwide.

Furthermore, there are many biological weapons for which no effective treatments exist, and the only protection is to not be anywhere in the area when people are exposed, and to get out before you and your family are exposed.

Also, in a crisis, expect emergency facilitiesincluding hospitals and medical clinics to be quickly overwhelmed. In fact, they are likely to be reservoirs of disease and contagion.

Dark Winter: What to Expect in the
Event of a Bioterrorist Attack

On June 22-23, 2001, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted what they term a senior-level war game examining the likely consequences of a smallpox outbreak in the U.S. Again, let me emphasis this is an exercise based on high-level computer analysis and prediction, not an actual occurrence.

The results were alarming: During the exercise, smallpox was projected to spread to 25 states and 15 foreign countries. By the 13th day of the exercise, A total of 16,000 smallpox cases have been reported in 25 states. But thats just the beginning.

By the end of the exercise, the National Security Council projects that in worst-case conditions, the third generation of cases could conceivably comprise as many as 3,000,000 cases of smallpox and lead to as many as 1,000,000 deaths. (Shining Light on Dark Winter, Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, Electronically published 19 February 2002.)

Other conclusions of the Dark Winter study:

  • States have restricted nonessential travel.
  • Food shortages are growing in some places, and the national economy is suffering.
  • Residents have fled and are fleeing cities where new cases emerge.
  • Canada and Mexico have closed their borders to the United States.
  • The public demands mandatory isolation of smallpox victims and their contacts, but identifying contacts has become logistically impossible.
  • The individual actions of US citizens will be critical to ending the spread of contagious diseases.

This last point to me is the most important lesson of Dark Winter: To survive you need to prepare in advance.

For more information on Dark Winter, check out the collection of articles here and here. The last link is from the University of Chicago.

120 Cities Most at Risk
State City
Alabama Birmingham
Alaska Anchorage
Arkansas Little Rock
Arizona Phoenix
California Anaheim
Huntington Beach
Long Beach
Los Angeles
San Bernardino
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Ana
San Jose
Colorado Aurora
Colorado Springs
District of Columbia Washington
Florida Fort Lauderdale
St. Petersburg
Georgia Atlanta
Hawaii Honolulu
Illinois Chicago
Indiana Fort Wayne
Iowa Des Moines
Kansas Kansas City
Kentucky Lexington
Louisiana Baton Rouge
New Orleans
Maryland Baltimore
Massachusetts Boston
Michigan Detroit
Grand Rapids
Minnesota Minneapolis
St. Paul
Mississippi Jackson
Missouri Kansas City
St. Louis
Nebraska Lincoln
Nevada Las Vegas
New Jersey Jersey City
New Mexico Albuquerque
New York Buffalo
New York
North Carolina Charlotte
Ohio Akron
Oklahoma Oklahoma City
Oregon Portland
Pennsylvania Philadelphia
Rhode Island Providence
Tennessee Chattanooga
Texas Amarillo
Corpus Christi
El Paso
Fort Worth
San Antonio
Utah Salt Lake City
Virginia Arlington
Newport News
Virginia Beach
Washington Seattle
Wisconsin Madison

Organization News

Our organization welcomes a new Field Investigator to the staff - Code Name Evan. Welcome. Evan has considerable experience in Skip Tracing, the art of locating Missing Persons.


Bin Laden died in US air raid: French expert
Indo-Asian News service
Islamabad, May 12

LadenA French expert claims Osama bin Laden, alleged terrorist mastermind wanted by the US for the 9/11 bombings, died after being maimed in an American air raid on the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001, a Pakistani newspaper says.

Ghislaine Alleaume, a historian and an expert on Arab affairs at the French National Research Centre (CNRC), reached the conclusion after studying television and Internet messages circulated by Bin Laden's supporters, the Daily Times reported from Paris.

She bases her theory mostly on a video report of the Al Qaida leader's broadcast by Al Jazeera television on December 27, 2001.

According to Alleaume, the Saudi exile looked weary and sick but she believes he had had his left arm amputated.

"He is wearing a military camouflage jacket and you can see that someone has placed a bag in the same colours just behind him to disguise the fact that he has lost his arm," she said.

She believes he died of his injuries soon afterwards. "Given the sanitary conditions, it would not have been easy to survive an amputation," she said.

Alleaume has studied other messages circulated by bin Laden supporters and she believes they contain clues that he is dead.

Since the end of 2001, the texts have often been signed Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, rather than just Osama bin Laden, she said.

"Adding Mohammed, his father's name, gives him an apocalyptic dimension. The Koran says the Mahdi, the final messenger, will be recognisable, among other things, by the fact that he carries the name of the Prophet."

Last month an Arabic language audio recording said to be of bin Laden was circulated in which he urged Muslims to launch suicide attacks against countries that supported the war on Iraq.

Nonessential U.S. diplomats and family members ordered out of Saudi Arabia

KEN GUGGENHEIM, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

(05-14) 04:56 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

The State Department ordered nonessential diplomats and family members out of Saudi Arabia and FBI agents headed to the kingdom after an attack that killed more than two dozen people, including several Americans.

Three foreign compounds in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, were attacked Monday in multiple simultaneous car bombings. U.S. and Saudi officials said the attack was likely tied to al-Qaida, the group responsible for the Sept. 11 2001 attacks.

Seventy Americans employed by Fairfax, Va.-based Vinnell Corp. lived in one of the complexes. Parent company Northrop Grumman described the target as a residential and office facility.

The State Department directive applied to Americans from the U.S. Embassy and from consulates in Saudi Arabia.

Echoing a May 1 travel warning, the statement recommended that private U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia consider departing and that Americans defer nonessential travel there.

"U.S. citizens are reminded of increased security concerns and the potential of further terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia," it said.

In the May 1 warning, the State Department said terrorist groups might be in the final phases of planning attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said there was no question that the intelligence that led to that warning was related to the attacks.

"There was very significant reporting across the community that plans not only were being made, but the decision to attack had been made," he said. "It was just a matter of who and when and where."

Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said Wednesday that Washington had asked Riyadh to tighten security in the wake of reports suggesting such an attack.

"As soon as we learned of this particular threat information, we contacted the Saudi government," he said in an interview on "The Early Show" on CBS.

Jordan said the United States asked for such security improvements "on several occasions. ... We continue to work with the Saudis on this, but they did not, as of the time of this tragic event, provide the additional security we requested."

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, appearing on NBC"s "Today" program Wednesday, said "there was news coming from everywhere that they were planning a major attack and we had established a committee with the United States to see what we could do both of us in order to prevent this attack from happening."

"We came close, we came indeed very close to doing that, but unfortunately they were able to do their damage," he said.

He said the attack "has the makings" of an al-Qaida operation.

U.S. officials had recently said al-Qaida was significantly weakened by a 20-month campaign that included U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An FBI "assessment team" including up to a dozen agents, bomb specialists and technicians, was dispatched to Saudi Arabia to help in the investigation and President Bush said those responsible would be tracked down. "It doesn't matter how long it takes, the war on terror goes on," he said after visiting parts of Missouri damaged by tornados.

A Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, said the attacks might have been prevented if the Bush administration had focused its energy on al-Qaida over the past year instead of going to war against Iraq.

"The war on Iraq was a distraction," Graham, a former Intelligence Committee chairman, told reporters at the Capitol. "It took us off the track of the war on terror which we were on a path to win, but we've now let it slip away from us."

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Iraq war did not diminish the war on terror. "I know that because I monitor daily the military situation and we had no lessening of our resolve against worldwide terrorism," he said.