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War on Terrorism Continues - 2002-08-28

On the “War on Terrorism” front, the search for members of the al-Qaida terrorist network and their supporters continues. Pakistan authorities have reportedly arrested twelve members of a militant group linked to the al-Qaida. And the Washington Post newspaper reports, citing Arab intelligence sources, that Iran is sheltering two key al-Qaida members and dozens of fighters. With other developments in the U-S War on terrorism, here’s Chris Simkins.

In Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces have wound up “Operation Mountain Sweep”, the latest major mission to root out remnants of al-Qaida resistance in the southeastern mountains. Some two thousand coalition troops, including local Afghans, uncovered five weapons caches and two sets of documents belonging to the ousted Taleban regime. U-S military spokesman, colonel Roger King, noted it appears al-Qaida is receiving local support.

“Seven women in the village of Narizah were found to be carrying nine RPG rounds hidden under their burkhas, and one of the mortar round caches was booby-trapped with and improvised explosive device. That cache was blown in place by explosive ordinance disposal specialists.”

During the operation warplanes were called in after rockets were fired on a U-S position. No Americans were hurt. But a U.S. soldier was injured elsewhere in an ambush, and evacuated to Germany.

In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, government troops and police have been sent to the remote Pankisi Gorge to drive out any Chechen rebels hiding in the lawless area. Some of the rebels are reported to be linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network. The U.S. has sent instructors to Georgia to train its troops in anti-terrorist operations.

In the United States – the Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking a second look at the Florida publishing building which was the target of the first of a series of anthrax attacks last year. The FBI has let it be known that it is investigating bio-weapons specialist Dr. Steven Hatfill. This week Dr. Hatfill forcefully denied the allegations against him.

“I am not the anthrax killer. I know nothing about the anthrax attacks. I had absolutely nothing to do with this terrible crime.”

Dr. Hatfill is one of thirty scientists listed by the FBI as “persons of interest” in the probe. In what are believed to be acts of internal terrorism, five people died and many others were hospitalized after anthrax-filled letters were sent to media and government representatives in October of last year.