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Fighting terror

Kenya links embassy, Mombasa attacks

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 22, 2003

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Investigators have found evidence suggesting that some of the same al-Qaida operatives involved in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa may have helped carry out the November attack on a Kenyan resort.

Four al-Qaida members were convicted in 2001 for the embassy attacks. But American officials acknowledge that they never completely cracked the al-Qaida cell that carried out the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 people dead. Thirteen of the FBI's 22 most wanted terrorists are suspects in those attacks.

Now, investigators say, at least two members of that cell may have gone on to plan the bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa on Nov. 28 that killed 11 Kenyans, three Israelis and at least two suicide bombers. A nearly simultaneous attack with a missile narrowly missed a charter plane headed to Israel from Mombasa airport.

After nearly three months of investigation, Kenyan law enforcement officials have yet to arrest any suspects. The numerous people taken in for questioning have all been released.

But investigators say they have developed a considerable body of evidence, much of it linking suspects in both the embassy and hotel bombings.

Although only one suspect has been named, investigators say they have the names and photographs of three others, all of them Kenyans. A fifth suspect, who is possibly a Kenyan and who was seen frequently with the others, apparently used false names. His identity is still being established.

Terrorism conviction numbers called inflated

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department reported inflated numbers of terrorism convictions as a result of misinformation from U.S. attorney's offices around the country, the General Accounting Office has found.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found that the number of terrorism convictions reported in 2002 was inflated by 46 percent because of inaccurate and unreliable information from U.S. attorneys. At least 132 of 288 cases the GAO examined were misclassified as terrorism-related, the agency told Congress.

Canada allowed to talk to Guantanamo inmate

TORONTO -- Canada has been allowed access to a Canadian teen being held at a U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a representative for Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister said Friday.

Omar Khadr, the 16-year-old son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, was captured on July 27 after being wounded during a battle that killed a U.S. soldier and wounded four others.

Canada had sought consular access to Khadr since August, but the U.S. government refused.

Morocco sentences three Saudis in al-Qaida plot

CASABLANCA, Morocco -- Three Saudi Arabians were sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday by a Moroccan court for leading an al-Qaida plot to attack U.S. and British warships.

The Saudis, said by Moroccan authorities to have been firmly enmeshed in al-Qaida, were arrested May 12 in what prosecutors contend was a plot to sail a dinghy loaded with explosives from Morocco into the Strait of Gibraltar to attack U.S. and British warships.

Cost of terror war so far put at $28-billion

WASHINGTON -- The costs of a war with Iraq would be on top of the $28-billion the U.S. military has already spent battling terrorists in Afghanistan and around the world since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Excluding preparations for confronting Iraq, that is what the Pentagon had spent through Sept. 30, said a Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col. Gary Keck.

The global fight against terrorism is now averaging $1.6-billion monthly, including $750-million in Afghanistan, he said.

During alert, planes must stay farther from Bush

WASHINGTON -- Authorities are expanding the restricted air space around President Bush because of the high-risk Code Orange threat alert, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday.

A group representing general aviation pilots is reminding its members to be careful to check flight restrictions should they plan to fly anywhere near the president. General aviation planes, generally small private craft, represents about half the pilots in the country.

Pentagon to hand out gas masks to workers, visitors

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department is providing gas masks for employees and visitors to its facilities in the Washington area to protect them against chemical or biological terrorists attacks.

Some 80,000 will be available and officials will begin handing them out next week to 20,000 civilian and uniformed employees who work in the Pentagon headquarters, as well as some 3,000 to 4,000 others such as members of the press corps and staffs of shops, restaurants and the facilities in the building, said defense spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin.

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