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Fighting terror

New alert warns of attack in Europe

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2003

WASHINGTON - The State Department issued a pointed warning to Americans across the globe Thursday to beware of terrorist attacks in coming weeks, citing possible dangers in places where U.S. citizens congregate overseas, such as places of worship, restaurants, hotels, beaches and other resorts.

The "worldwide caution" released Thursday stems in part from new intelligence that suggests an attack, possibly involving chemical weapons, could be launched soon in Western Europe, U.S. officials said. The information comes from an interrogation of a captured al-Qaida operative or intercepted conversations among terror cell members still on the street, officials said.

"The U.S. government remains deeply concerned about the security of U.S. citizens overseas," said the State Department bulletin, which cited the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as one reason for the official alarm.

"We are seeing increasing indications that al-Qaida is preparing to strike U.S. interests abroad," it said. "We expect al-Qaida will strive for new attacks that will be more devastating than the September 11 attack, possibly involving nonconventional weapons such as chemical or biological agents.

"We also cannot rule out the potential for al-Qaida to attempt a second catastrophic attack within the U.S.," the bulletin continued.

Reporter charged with being al-Qaida member

MADRID, Spain - A Spanish judge formally charged a top reporter for Al-Jazeera on Thursday with being a member of al-Qaida, saying he helped with "support, financing and coordination" for the terrorist network.

Investigating Judge Baltasar Garzon charged Tayssir Alouni, 48, with membership in an armed group and ordered him held in the high-security Soto del Real prison near Madrid after a 72-hour extension of his arrest expired, the National Court said.

"Removed from his work as a journalist but taking advantage of it he carries out support, financing and coordination, which are the characteristics of a qualified militant of the organization," Garzon's statement read.

The charge will be followed by a more detailed indictment. In the Spanish legal system, investigating judges issue the indictments against defendants, who then go to a full trial.

Alouni is a well-known war correspondent in the Mideast for the Qatar-based Arabic satellite television network. He was the Kabul correspondent for Al-Jazeera during the Afghanistan war, and one of the only journalists allowed by the hardline Taliban regime to operate from the areas in its control.

He was criticized by some for helping the station secure videotapes from Osama bin Laden in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Also Thursday, Al-Jazeera reported that one of its Baghdad correspondents, Atwar Bahjat, was detained by the U.S. military while covering explosions in Baghdad. The U.S. military said an Al-Jazeera reporter was detained for breaking one of its "ground rules" for coverage, but did not elaborate.

Also . . .

YEMEN ARRESTS 6: Yemen has arrested six Saudis who are suspected of belonging to the al-Qaida terror group, a security official said Thursday. They will be deported to Saudi Arabia next week with Bandr Abdel Hakim al-Ghamdi, recently arrested on suspicion of playing a role in deadly bomb attacks in the Saudi capital.


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