ISTANBUL -- Turkish authorities received a warning that Al Qaeda was planning to use a bomb-laden glider in a suicide attack targeting world leaders at the NATO summit in Istanbul, the city's police chief was quoted as saying.
In a newspaper interview published yesterday, Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah said the intelligence came from foreign sources and described such a plot as far-fetched. "To tell you the truth, we did not find it very realistic," Cerrah told the daily newspaper Hurriyet.
Still, the intelligence was immediately passed on to Turkey's military, which was responsible for ensuring the security of airspace over the city during the summit, the police chief said.
A senior police official contacted by the Associated Press yesterday confirmed Cerrah's statements on the condition of anonymity.
According to a tip that Cerrah said was received by Turkey's national intelligence service MIT from unspecified foreign sources, Osama bin Laden's terrorist network was planning to use a bomb-laden glider to target a hotel in Istanbul where at least one NATO leader was staying during the June 28-29 summit.
The aircraft was supposed to take off from a neighboring country and approach the city by flying over the Black Sea, Cerrah said.
The police chief did not say in the interview which hotel was supposedly targeted.
But the police official who spoke to the AP yesterday said it was the hotel where President Bush was staying.
"They had chosen a glider, because radar would not spot it," Cerrah told the newspaper. "Since it flies without an engine, it would approach the target in silence."
Among world leaders attending the summit were Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, and President Jacques Chirac of France.