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Posted: 12/17/2002 7:08:18 PM EDT
UNITED NATIONS (Dec. 17) - New foot soldiers for Islam's holy war are streaming into al-Qaida training camps that have been recently reactivated in eastern Afghanistan, a U.N. report on the terror group said Tuesday. While Osama bin Laden's financial network has been mostly dismantled his terror network still enjoys significant support and has ``access to substantial funding from its previously established investments,'' said the report by an expert panel. Michael Chandler of Britain, who led the expert group, told a news conference that al-Qaida operatives might be present in about 40 countries, which he did not identify. The U.N. experts warned in the report that al-Qaida has the potential to obtain nuclear material and build ``some kind of dirty bomb.'' More than a year after a U.S.-led coalition ousted Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, who harbored bin Laden and his followers, the report said ``one of the most recent developments to come to light is the apparent activation of new, albeit simple, training camps in eastern Afghanistan'' for al-Qaida supporters. Chandler said the camps may have sprung up near the eastern town of Asadabad, in Kunar province. But he said since U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan were constantly looking for such facilities, these camps were ``small, discreet and mobile'' and did not stay in one place for too long. ``Particularly disturbing about this trend is the fact that new volunteers are making their way to these camps, swelling the numbers of would-be al-Qaida activists and the longer-term capabilities of the network,'' the report said. Reports of training camps have also surfaced from Peshawar, near the porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Last week, some officials in Pakistan's intelligence community and Interior Ministry said suicide squads were being trained in Pakistan by al-Qaida operatives to hit targets in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government denies the presence of such camps. Many ``disillusioned'' young men still flock to such camps, either to be trained as ``foot soldiers'' for al-Qaida or to receive more specialized training. He did not give details. ``There is a tremendous amount of sympathy in some countries for the movement,'' Chandler said, referring to al-Qaida. He did not name any country. There are no precise numbers for suspected terrorists, but ``the figure of 10,000 is tossed around,'' he said. The Oct. 12 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, confirmed the extent of relationships between al-Qaida and the loose coalition of extremist groups in Southeast Asia, while the Nov. 28 attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, demonstrated a shift in tactics by the group to hit soft targets, the U.N. report said. The blasts in two nightclubs in Bali killed 192 people, mostly foreign tourists. In Mombasa, a vehicle packed with explosives plowed into the Paradise Hotel, about 10 miles north of the Indian Ocean port. Ten Kenyans, three Israelis and at least two bombers died. Minutes earlier, unidentified assailants fired two missiles at an Israeli jet taking off from Mombasa airport, narrowly missing the aircraft that was filled with Israeli tourists returning to Tel Aviv. ``Soft targets, preferably with maximum casualties, would now appear to be the order of the day,'' the report said. Chandler said there was no proof that al-Qaida had obtained nuclear material, but there was evidence to show that the group had expressed interest in it. ``Our concern is you can actually get the stuff,'' he said. The report noted the recent seizure by Tanzanian police of 240 pounds of suspected uranium, an element that can be used as fuel in a nuclear bomb. Experts later said they believed the uranium was not weapons-grade. Chandler said his group had no evidence linking al-Qaida to Iraq's suspected program to build weapons of mass destruction. Under U.N. sanctions, which the expert group is monitoring, all nations are required to freeze the finances and impose arms embargoes and travel bans on individuals and groups associated with bin Laden, al-Qaida, and Afghanistan's former Taliban leaders - wherever they are in the world. According to the United Nations, the list currently has 324 names, including 232 individuals and 92 groups. Richard Grenell, the U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, said President Bush had spoken earlier about a long haul in the fight against al-Qaida. ``Much has been accomplished and there is much more to be done. As the president said in the beginning this war will be a non-traditional war and will take a long time,'' Grenell said. In Washington, a counterterrorism official said the Bush administration was aware of al-Qaida activity in Afghanistan, but said no major training activity was going on. In a report about one year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the group had warned the United States and other nations involved in the campaign against terror that al-Qaida still had the money and recruits to strike. It has repeatedly urged countries to abide by U.N. sanctions to freeze funding to suspected terror groups and provide names of terror suspects so that they can be tracked down. ``Many countries have refrained completely from providing names of such persons or entities,'' the report said. Most of these nations, which he did not identify, cited legal complications in accusing people or organizations of being linked to terrorism without enough evidence. 12/17/02 21:05 EST Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
Link Posted: 12/17/2002 7:23:43 PM EDT
and then..
Link Posted: 12/17/2002 7:54:36 PM EDT
Does this mean that we will be getting to see new AC-130 videos in the future?
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