Monday, May 29, 2006

Europe on high alert for the next attack.

EU: Islamic terrorists being watched in various countries.

MADRID, Spain (AP) - European intelligence networks have thrown a blanket of surveillance over a small but fiercely violent cast of Islamic militants, many homegrown with no direct links to al-Qaida, whose fingerprints they expect to find on the Continent's next big terrorist attack. Senior security officials across Europe warned in interviews with The Associated Press that the relative ease and low cost of an attack, combined with the anger and isolation felt by Muslim populations, mean more bloodshed is almost inevitable. The officials painted a picture of a diverse group of militants with competing agendas, vastly different social and educational backgrounds and a litany of gripes that makes it difficult to predict their next move. While they may be motivated by Osama bin Laden's call for worldwide jihad, they mostly operate independently of al-Qaida's leadership, the officials said. ``There is no profile; they come from everywhere,'' said Manfred Murck, deputy director of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which tracks extremist activity in the northern city of Hamburg, home to three of the four Sept. 11 suicide pilots. ``You can't concentrate on certain targets, you can't concentrate on certain persons ... Everything is possible, anything goes, and you just have to try and be as close as you can to the whole group.''
Cartoons and Paris Riots blamed for the higher threat.
No link to al-Qaida has been established in any of the incidents, though British authorities are still looking into a trip two of the bombers there made to Pakistan in the year before the bombings. Said Heinz Fromm, Germany's domestic intelligence chief: ``One today cannot talk any longer of a central leadership role of al-Qaida.'' Bin Laden's group has become a ``diffuse, amorphous organization'' that provides inspiration for attacks, rather than a guiding hand, he said. Riots in heavily Muslim inner cities of France, and the global Islamic outburst over the publication of Danish cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad, have further heated the climate for terrorism. ``We have recorded a significant increase in the number of threats'' because of the cartoons, said Lars Findsen, the intelligence chief in Denmark. The Internet is replacing militant mosques as the main meeting site for potential terrorists, said Sybrand van Hulst, the director of the Netherlands' CIA equivalent, the AIVD. It has also become their manual.

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