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Fighting terror notebook

100 terror attacks thwarted, U.S. officials say

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 11, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Federal authorities said Friday that more than 100 terrorist attacks planned against the United States and its allies have been thwarted since Sept. 11, 2001, due in large part to the continuing interrogation of enemy combatants and other captives ensnared in the war on terror.

Although authorities would not officially disclose the nature of the planned attacks, the Washington Post reported that they included threats against American embassies on three continents, a U.S. military base in Europe and American cargo ships passing through the straits of Gibraltar.

It also remained unclear how many of the threats were against specific sites inside the United States. But federal authorities noted that it was the interrogation of a key al-Qaida operative that ultimately led to the arrest last year of Jose Padilla, the so-called "dirty bomber" who allegedly was scouting fresh attack targets in the United States.

The disclosure about the planned attacks came in a legal declaration filed by Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

His nine-page affidavit was used by government prosecutors to detail how important the interrogations have become, and to argue against a federal judge's ruling last month that Padilla be allowed to meet with his lawyer.

The government said that it has had eight months to talk uninterruptedly with Padilla and that a meeting with his lawyer would disrupt their efforts for his cooperation.

According to the CIA, more than 3,000 al-Qaida operatives and associates have been detained in more than 100 countries since the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked. CIA director George Tenet said recently that the United States had developed "a trove of information we're using to press the hunt further."

Two Yemeni suspects arrested in Germany

FRANKFURT, Germany -- German authorities, acting on a U.S. request, arrested two Yemeni men Friday on suspicion of belonging to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization. Federal and state police arrested the men at a hotel at the Frankfurt international airport.

One of the men was identified as Mohammed Ali Hassan Sheik al Mujahed, in his mid-50s. He is supposed to have been the imam of a large mosque in the Yemeni capital, Sana, and is suspected of being responsible for al-Qaida's logistics in Yemen. The other man, Said Mohammed Mohsen, is in his late 20s and was accompanying al Mujahed on his travels.

German Justice Ministry spokeswoman Eva Schmierer said since the arrests were made at the request of the United States, she expected the two men would be quickly extradited. She would give no other information other than confirming the two arrests.

Slain airman gets Air Force Cross for heroism

POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C., -- The Air Force bestowed its highest award Friday on Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, an air controller killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan last March while battling al-Qaida fighters on a mountaintop as he attempted to help retrieve the body of a Navy SEAL who had fallen from an ambushed helicopter.

It was only the third time since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 that an enlisted airman received the Air Force Cross, which ranks just below the Medal of Honor and is given for "extraordinary heroism."

"His conduct culminated in his selfless decision to place his own life in jeopardy to save fellow warriors, and thus by his sacrifice we the living are called upon to adhere daily to those values this country cherishes," Air Force Secretary James Roche said of Chapman.

U.S. terror task force could be in for long stay

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. task force aimed at terrorists in the volatile Horn of Africa could be expanding and preparing for a lengthy stay, the commander said Friday in assessing his first 30 days in the area.

"You know, it's not a short-term battle over here," Marine Maj. Gen. John Sattler said in a telephone hookup with the press from his command ship, the USS Mount Whitney, in the Gulf of Aden.

The task force, with about 400 troops on the headquarters ship and 900 ashore at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, has been gathering intelligence and cementing relations with governments in the region but has not conducted any raids, Sattler said.

Sattler said he had no indication that Osama bin Laden was in the area.

He also said the U.S. Central Command leader, Gen. Tommy Franks, had told him additional forces would be available as necessary.

Terror risk reported on island of Zanzibar

WASHINGTON -- The State Department has received information that a terrorist group may be planning an attack on an unspecified location frequented by Westerners on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.

A department statement issued Friday said possible targets include restaurants, clubs or hotels.

N.Y. nuclear plant's crisis planning faulted

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Emergency plans for the Indian Point nuclear power plant fail to address the threat of a terrorist attack, and do not adequately protect the densely populated New York metropolitan area from a release of radiation, an independent study concludes.

Evacuation plans for the plant, 35 miles from Manhattan, are inadequate to "protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation," according to the report delivered Friday to Gov. George Pataki.

Among other problems, "the plans do not consider the possible additional ramifications of a terrorist-caused release," the report said. "Simply stated, the world has recently changed. What was once considered sufficient may now be in need of further revision."

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