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US Urges Vigilance at Xmas on Terror, Qaeda Threats
Fri December 19, 2003 07:29 PM ET
By Jim Wolf and Firouz Sedarat
WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) - The White House said on Friday it had ordered U.S. security personnel to be extra vigilant for terror attacks during the Christmas period as the EU's police agency warned al Qaeda was very active in Europe.
Al Jazeera television broadcast a purported audio tape by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, vowing to defeat the "infidel" United States.
U.S. authorities said they were concerned by what they called the volume of terrorist threats at home and overseas.
"The Department of Homeland Security has sent out several bulletins...(to) security officials and law enforcement personnel, urging all to continue be on heightened state of alert especially as we enter the busy holiday season," said Scott McClellan, President Bush's spokesman.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation dismissed an ABC television report that there was credible information pointing to a possible strike against New York, target of the September 11 attacks in 2001 widely blamed on al Qaeda.
In the Jazeera audio tape, the speaker purported to be Zawahri said al Qaeda would target Americans everywhere, including the United States.
"America has been defeated (by) our fighters in Afghanistan despite all its military might, its weaponry," the speaker said in the undated tape.
"With God's help we are still chasing Americans and their allies everywhere, including their homeland," he said.
TAPE VOW TO EXPEL U.S. "INFIDELS"
Muslims, the speaker said, would see a "new dawn in which the crusaders and infidels would be expelled and the banner of Islam would fly proudly over Jerusalem, the holy Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina as well as Cairo, Baghdad and Kabul."
The speaker said attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq were carried out by Muslim militants and ordinary Iraqis, rejecting U.S. statements that Saddam Hussein supporters were involved.
No independent verification was immediately available that the voice was that of Zawahri, bin Laden's right-hand man.
Jazeera and another Arabic satellite television station, Al Arabiya, have broadcast similar tapes in the past that the CIA later said bore the voices of bin Laden and Zawahri.
The speaker said Arab nations providing bases and help to U.S. forces to fight Muslims should be ready for "judgment day."
Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain opened up bases and logistics to U.S.-led forces during the war to topple Saddam.
The European Union's police agency Europol said in a report based on intelligence that al Qaeda-linked groups regarded Europe as a potential target for attacks.
"While the (EU) has not been a victim of Islamic extremist attacks within its boundaries (in the last year), attacks overseas, notably in Morocco, were obviously targeting its citizens and interests, confirming if necessary the previous threats from Osama bin Laden," said the report, seen by Reuters.
"The main focus is still on Islamic (extremist) groups close to al Qaeda which are very active in the European Union, which they consider both as a potential target, a recruiting ground and a logistical base," the report said.
"NO SHOTS FIRED"
The U.S. Navy said on Friday a U.S. warship seized two tonnes of hashish from a small dhow near the mouth of the Gulf this week, uncovering a suspected al Qaeda smuggling operation.
"Three of the 12 crew members are believed to have links to (al Qaeda)," the Navy said in a statement, adding the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur stopped the dhow near the Strait of Hormuz on Monday.
"No shots were fired during the interception mission," Fifth Fleet spokesman Commander James Graybeal told Reuters in Dubai. He declined to say where the dhow came from or its destination.
Iran and the Gulf are major transit routes for drugs from Afghanistan, a leading producer of hashish and opium, to markets in Europe and oil-rich Gulf Arab states.
Saudi-born bin Laden is believed by many security experts to have hidden in the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border area since his Taliban allies were toppled from power in Kabul by U.S.-led forces in late 2001.
Al Qaeda enjoys support among some Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia and neighboring Yemen, bin Laden's ancestral home.
Turkish police said an international terrorist organization had given training and cash to members of a radical Turkish group thought to be behind four devastating bomb blasts in Istanbul last month that killed 61 people and wounded hundreds.
A member of the group, Adnan Ersoz, was detained on December 15 after returning from Iran and admitted the link while being questioned, a police statement said.
It did not name the organization, but the state Anatolian news agency said Ersoz met bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001.
U.S. stocks dipped briefly after the ABC report, but the New York Dow exchange ended at its highest level in about 19 months.
"People have become completely numb to these various threats," said Keith Keenan of stockbrokers Wall Street Access. Previous
投稿者 シジミ 日時 2003 年 12 月 20 日 16:09:08:eWn45SEFYZ1R.