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No Region Exempt from Terrorism, says Interpol Chief - 2004-03-16

The secretary general of Interpol has warned in that the threat of more terror attacks by al Qaida and related groups remains the agency's biggest challenge.

Interpol's Secretary General Ronald Noble said the train bombings in Madrid last week that left more than 200 people dead was a stark reminder that al Qaida-style terrorism is intended to hurt the whole world.

"Just a few days ago, we were once again brutally reminded that the type of attacks that al Qaida-like terrorist groups use are among the most troubling to us law enforcement officials and as a world community," he said. "No region of the world is exempt, and no region has been spared from al Qaida-like terrorists."

He spoke Tuesday in Manila at the opening of a regional conference for members of Interpol - the international police cooperative agency.

A video recording claiming to be from al Qaida said the terror group was responsible for the bombings in Spain last week. However, Spanish authorities have not confirmed an al Qaida role.

Mr. Noble said the Madrid bombings illustrate why al Qaida-style attacks - hitting simultaneous targets to inflict the maximum number of casualties - are the biggest challenge facing Interpol.

He says the attacks are designed to kill as many people as possible and preferably from as many countries as possible. He points out that people from 12 countries were killed or wounded in Madrid.

"Any large-scale terrorist attack attributable to al Qaida or possessing al Qaida-like characteristics has a negative impact on the security of citizens not only of those countries directly targeted but also on all citizens," said Mr. Noble. "In light of our experience, Interpol believes no government can honestly say to its citizens that they do not have to be concerned about terrorism."

Al Qaida is believed to have been responsible for the September 2001 attacks in the United States and a series of bombings in other parts of the world over the past several years.

The Interpol secretary general says the agency's 181 member countries are committed to working together to help keep the world safer from terrorism.

Mr. Noble says Asian countries have a long history of fighting terrorism and cooperating with Interpol. He urges regional law enforcement officers to remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism.

The 18th Interpol Asian Regional Conference gathers more than 200 senior police officers from 63 countries to explore ways to improve regional security.