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FBI Issues Missile Launcher Warning - 2002-05-31

Remnants of a spent anti-aircraft missile have been found close to an airstrip in Saudi Arabia used by U.S. military aircraft patrolling the no fly zone over southern Iraq. The find has prompted the FBI to alert law enforcement across the United States about the find.

A routine Saudi patrol turned up the spent case containing the shoulder-fired missile several weeks ago. It was found inside the perimeter of the Prince Sultan Air base, a few kilometers from the end of a runway used by U.S. military aircraft.

Central Command spokesman Colonel Rick Thomas explains, "We don't know how the spent canister got there but obviously throughout our region we have certainly taken the threat of terrorist targeting U.S. and coalition forces very seriously."

And, the FBI believes the discovery could be part of an attempt by al-Qaida to target American forces in the region, but so far is not extending any warnings to commercial aircraft.

Exiled al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is among Islamic militants opposed to the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia. It was there, six years ago, that nineteen American airmen were killed in a terrorist truck bomb at the Khobar Towers military barracks.