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War on Terrorism Update - 2002-12-18

French police have arrested four alleged terrorists, suspected of preparing a chemical attack. Two vials of chemicals were found Monday when the men were arrested in their apartment in Paris. The liquid is being analyzed to determine its exact nature. And in the French city Nice, police arrested five people. Authorities uncovered a number of weapons and a map of the city’s sewer system. It is not clear if the suspects were planning to use the weapons in a terrorist attack. There were a number of other developments in the international war on terrorism. Melinda Smith has the details.

In Washington the Bush administration has created a “most wanted” list of Osama bin Laden and his top deputies. The Central Intelligence Agency has been authorized to kill any one of them, if capture proves impossible. Agents will not need advance approval. Senators from both parties supported the White House move.

“As a nation the United States must move and must move swiftly to remove individuals or groups of individuals who threaten our freedom and security. So I back the president on this.”

“These are combatants in war and I find no difficulty with it.”

In the Afghan capital of Kabul two American soldiers and their translator were wounded in a grenade attack. Police arrested two men, one of them a teenager with two hand grenades, who allegedly confessed to throwing the grenade.

On Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, Pakistani authorities have beefed up security in an effort to stop illegal border crossings of al-Qaida and Taleban suspects. This at a time when the United Nations has released a report saying that al-Qaida has established small terrorist training sites in eastern Afghanistan, which are attracting a number of volunteers.

Also in Pakistan police arrested three men and seized ten tons of explosives at a warehouse outside of Karachi. The men allegedly planned to crash a Volkswagen filled with explosives into a car driven by U.S. diplomats.

Authorities say the suspects received training in Afghanistan. It is unclear if they are linked to al-Qaida.

In Jordan, police announced the arrest of two suspects in connection with the October 28 murder of US diplomat Laurence Foley. Jordan’s minister of information Mohammad al Adwab

“They have confessed to the killing and they confessed to being members of the al-Qaida network.”

Finally, the USS Whitney has anchored off the coast of the east African nation of Djibuti. The American warship is serving as an operations center to combat terrorism in the region of the Horn of Africa. There are about 400 U.S. and allied military personnel on board.

Another 900 U.S. military personnel will be stationed on shore in Djibouti. One potential mission area for the U.S. led task force is nearby Kenya, which was rocked by a suicide bombing at an Israeli owned resort last month.