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Fighting terror

FBI steps up antiterror efforts

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 21, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The FBI intensified its effort Thursday to interview thousands of Iraqi-born individuals living in the United States in an effort to uncover any potential terrorists and to protect the rest from hate crimes.

Thousands of FBI agents were being diverted from regular duties to do interviews and staff command posts at the bureau's 56 field offices to gather intelligence and respond quickly to any terrorist threats. A national command center was set up at FBI headquarters in Washington.

"We are bringing to bear the full weight of our resources, expertise, and partnerships," said FBI director Robert Mueller. "We are running down every lead, responding to every threat ... and doing our utmost to keep terrorists from striking back."

The FBI has new authority from Attorney General John Ashcroft to arrest people on immigration charges if they are believed to post a wartime threat.

Nuclear plant could be a target, officials say

WASHINGTON -- Terrorists may have targeted the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Thursday. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has sent National Guard troops to provide additional security at the plant.

Abraham told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing that he couldn't go into details about intelligence reports concerning the nation's largest commercial nuclear power facility. But he acknowledged there were indications that it might have become a target for terrorists.

Rebel leader suspected of al-Qaida ties is arrested

OSLO, Norway -- Mullah Krekar, the leader of a Kurdish guerrilla group suspected of links to al-Qaida, was arrested by Norwegian police Thursday on kidnapping charges.

Police arrested Krekar at his home in Oslo. Spokesman Erling Grimstad said authorities were looking into widening the charges.

Krekar was questioned by Norway's intelligence agency last month when the rebel leader admitted to briefly holding nine men in Iraq in December 2001.

Norwegian prosecutors can charge suspects for crimes that took place outside the country's borders.

Krekar, who commanded the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam group in northern Iraq, has denied the allegations. If convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.

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