Even Arab League Summit Is Not Immune

Al Qaeda’s next round of terror has begun in Europe. In Issue No. 50 (February 22), DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported from its counter-terror sources that the campaign was imminent and would embrace the United States and the Middle East, as well as Europe. As the first terror cells go into action, they are finding anti-terror authorities better informed than before and capable of applying a measure of prevention.

The arrest on Friday, March 1, of Ahmed Nasser, by Italian police accompanied by FBI agents, has caused deep concern because as, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports, the Pakistani al Qaeda suspect who walked into the arms of the police at Rome’s Fiumicino came directly from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

FBI sources in Rome described Nasser as the leader of an al-Qaeda terrorist cell in the Italian capital. He was picked up following the detention in mid-February of a number of al Qaeda terror squads as they filtered into Turkey from Iran, after being trained and assigned with attacking US bases in Turkey and striking crowd centers in Israel.

Several hours before Nasser was taken into custody in Rome, Italian police raided a garage near the city’s central train station that served Muslim laborers from nearby workshops as a mosque. They took into custody Habib Jumari, an Algerian, Ben Halifa Mansour, a Tunisian, and three Iraqis, Faisal Salah Mohammed, Ahmed Issa Mohamdu and Ali Hamin Qadir. All six were identified as members of the extremist Algerian underground group, the GIA, which operates under the al-Qaeda umbrella.

Their leader, Nasser’s arrest put Saudi Arabia on the spot once again. Not only had he been running the Rome al-Qaeda branch from the Saudi Red Sea town of Jeddah, but he had flown into the Italian capital aboard a Saudi airliner, without being bothered by questions or delays at his point of departure.

This confirms recent DEBKA-Net-Weekly accounts of the relative freedom of action enjoyed by al-Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia’s main cities. The Americans were most perturbed of all to discover that this freedom is not only allowed Saudi nationals with strong tribal connections or ties to important clerics and influential families – Crown Prince Abdullah’s political base – but to a foreign terrorist from Pakistan.

Following this discovery, the Pentagon quietly deleted Saudi Arabia from the list of countries assisting the United States war against terror.

Then, early Saturday morning, March 2, an elite anti-terror unit of the Macedonian police burst into a villa in a northern suburb of the capital Skopje and killed seven al-Qaeda terrorists in a shootout. Five of the dead turned out to be Pakistanis. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources report the squad was on its way to carry out attacks this week against the US, German and British embassies and other targets in Skopje.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terrorism experts believe another four or five terrorist rings are lying in wait in Europe and the Middle East for on opportunity or a signal to carry out similar missions. One or more cells may be heading for the United States – or have already reached US shores.

Information on targets in the USA is hazy; it is more precise in Europe.

Warnings have reached European counter-terrorism authorities of possible strikes against Norwegian oil fields or offshore platforms in the North Sea. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources believe al-Qaeda chiefs want to pay Norway back for sending commandos to join the US-led offensive against Taliban and al-Qaeda die-hards in mountain areas south of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The Norwegian troops were co-opted for their experience in high-altitude combat in snowy mountain terrain. The US Command has acknowledged that several US troops have suffered injury from the extreme climate.

The threat to Norway could, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, come in the form of missile attacks launched by terrorists from the decks of moving vessels. Al Qaeda has commandos trained for underwater demolition, who could be lowered into rubber boats to carry out suicide bombings against offshore platforms. The Norwegian air force and navy are on their highest state of alert against these contingencies.

Germany is also targeted by al Qaeda, for collaborating closely with the American war on terror. The Germany authorities are on the lookout for plots to sabotage high-speed trains and mainline railway stations. One scenario envisions terrorist squads already in place in Germany commandeering a number of bullet trains and slamming them at maximum speed into a train station. A high-speed train jumping the tracks at full velocity and plowing into the crowded centers of Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt, could cause death and destruction on the scale of the hijack-suicides that toppled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon on September 11. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources say these warnings pertain to the United States and Israel, as much as to Europe.

Arab intelligence services have recently climbed aboard the terror information circuit out of concern for the safety of the rulers attending the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut on March 28.The Arab agencies are designing security measures to foil possible biological or chemical attack at the conference venue or the hotels and villas housing the visiting Arab leaders. One possibility being taken very seriously — especially by Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence — is an anthrax attack on conference participants.

Most Arab counter-terrorism agencies earnestly believe in this type of al-Qaeda strike, meaning they completely discount US media reports of a lone American scientist suspected by the FBI of responsibility for last year’s anthrax outbreak in the United States. When Arab intelligence agencies asked for US advice on how to handle an anthrax threat, they were turned away.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly would like to draw its readers’ attention to its previous disclosures of a terrorist nuclear threat to the United States, now surfacing in many world media. That al-Qaeda operatives had got hold of a nuclear device or a Soviet-made nuclear suitcase bomb first appeared in our publication on October 12, 2001 in the lead article of Issue No. 33, under the headline “Bin Laden’s nuclear links with the Russian mafia”.

Furthermore, the “new” discovery of the use al-Qaeda and Taliban make of the Internet to transmit coded electronic messages, likewise appeared first in DEBKA-Net-Weekly, Issue No. 30, on September 21, 2001. Our headline was: “Digital mole in the White House”.

Our Issue No. 48, which appeared on February 2, 2002, also broke the news that “US digitally blocks al-Qaeda’s Internet messages”.

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