An undated recent picture of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden in an undisclosed place inside Afghanistan.
Sept 12 (iviews.com) - As US investigators begin to sift through evidence from yesterday's terrorist attacks on landmarks in Washington and New York, US public officials, journalists and terror pundits have begun to point fingers at Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.
US Senator Orrin Hatch said US intelligence had intercepted communications between people associated with bin Laden that mentioned the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.
"They've come to the conclusion that this looks like it may be the signature of Osama bin Laden, that he may be the one behind this."
But bin Laden has denied involvement in a spate of terrorist attacks in the United States but said he supported the strikes, Pakistani newspaper Ausaf reported Wednesday.
The Urdu-language daily said bin Laden had described the attacks as the legitimate reaction of oppressed people against US power.
It claimed that a statement of the Saudi dissident, who is hiding in neighbouring Afghanistan under the protection of the ruling Taliban, was read out to the newspaper by an unnamed "special representative".
The report did not quote bin Laden or the statement directly, but said he was not involved in the devastating terrorist attacks which levelled the World Trade Center and severely damaged the Pentagon on Tuesday morning.
Bin Laden reportedly declared that he had a mission to end Israeli aggression against Palestinians and hundreds of young people had vowed to die for him.
The daily wrote that bin Laden said he had no nuclear weapons and missiles but commanded support from dozens of Muslim chemists and biologists who would use their knowledge against "infidels", or non-Muslims.
The Arab League's ambassador in Russia said Wednesday that Osama bin Laden could not be held responsible for Tuesday's deadly attacks.
The blasts that are believed to have killed thousands of people are "way beyond the means" of the Saudi multi-millionaire, said Said al Barami, as quoted by the Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a string of search warrants for addresses in Florida late Tuesday in their hunt for the perpetrators of the coordinated terror attacks on New York and Washington, CNN reported.
A law enforcement source was quoted as saying that information gleaned from the hijacked planes' passenger lists led to search warrants that the FBI is in the process of, or will soon be, executing in more than one location in South Florida, including homes and post office boxes.
"We're looking at South Florida ties to some of the people we're looking at, the source close to investigators told CNN.
Also, in northern Florida, a search will be made of a location in Daytona, the source said.
Contacted by AFP, and FBI agent in Florida refused to confirm or deny the report.
And the Boston Globe reported that investigators were interviewing drivers from a Boston cab company, "where two known associates of Osama bin Laden once worked."
Robert Fitzpatrick, former second-in-command of the FBI in Boston, told the Globe he was told by law enforcement sources that they found six plastic bags in a car seized in the airport parking garage.
"The bags contained items that included Arabic-language terrorist training manuals," reported the Boston newspaper.
The Globe also reported that authorities found "two bags that contained an instructional video on flying commercial airliners, a fuel consumption calculator and a copy of the Koran" in two bags that did not make it onto the doomed American Airlines Flight 11.
The crippling terrorist assault was also condemned as a colossal failure for the vaunted US intelligence system by critics in Congress and elsewhere.
"This is the second Pearl Harbor. I don't think that I overstate that," Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said.
Although members of Congress closed ranks around the president, there was also deep disappointment over the failure to detect and thwart the bloody strikes.
Questions abounded, such as how terorrists were able to pull off the virtually simultaneous hijackings of two American Airlines and two United Airlines domestic flights on the east coast with a total of 266 people aboard.
Also unanswered was how they were able to direct the Boeing aircraft towards major US centers of power without interception, particularly after the first plane slammed into one of the Trade Center towers.
AFP contributed to this report.