Sources dispute reports of bin Laden phone call

October 3, 2001 Posted: 12:26 AM HKT (1626 GMT)

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Osama bin Laden  

By David Ensor and Eileen O'Connor
CNN National Security Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Knowledgeable U.S officials believe there is no truth to reports that Osama bin Laden called his mother shortly before the September 11 attacks and hinted at upcoming terrorist attacks against the United States.

"We doubt it. We do not think it happened," one of the sources said.

When pressed about the reports, the source said flatly: "We think it's wrong."

Another official said while he could not "one hundred percent eliminate the possibility, I would view those reports with skepticism if I were you."

The New York Times reported Tuesday that bin Laden called his mother September 10 and told her "something big" was about to happen and that she would not hear from him for a long time.

The Times attributed the information to a senior foreign official. NBC, which first reported the phone call Monday, said the call came two days before the terrorist hijackings and said bin Laden told his mother: "In two days, you're going to hear big news and you're not going to hear from me for a while."

U.S. officials told CNN that in recent years they've been able to monitor some of bin Laden's telephone communications with his mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded.

More recently, U.S. officials believe bin Laden has used other means of communicating, and intelligence experts told CNN they could not confirm that they have been able to continue overhearing his calls.

Bin Laden, a Saudi native, lives in Afghanistan and has been labeled by President Bush as the "prime suspect" in the attacks against the United States.

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