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Security Tightens as War on Terrorism Continues - 2003-05-22

Security has been tightened in key cities around the world as law enforcement agencies continue their watch for terrorist attacks. The heightened alert follows new threats allegedly from one of al-Qaida leaders and last week’s bombing attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. VOA-TV’s Chris Simkins has more.

Across the United States heightened security remains in place as the nation tries to guard against possible terrorist attacks.

The move to raise the U.S. terror threat level to high comes after last week’s bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. It also follows new threats reportedly made by Ayman Al Zawahiri, one of Osama Bin Laden’s top lieutenants. In an audio tape, Al Zawahiri urges Muslims to attack embassies and commercial interests in the United States, Britain, Australia and Norway.

FBI Director Robert Mueller says he fears the recent attacks overseas could signal a resurgence of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

“The reports we received indicated that those two attacks overseas might be a prelude to an attack in the United States, but we have no specificity as to targets or specific times.”

Despite the uncertainty, the priority is being placed on locations where terrorists have said they would target. In New York City National guard troops are patrolling subways and bridges.

In Washington, anti-aircraft missile batteries are protecting the nation’s monuments and heavily armed capitol police conduct random patrols.

At busy seaports Coast Guard boats keep watch on shipping traffic while at the nation’s airports more patrols have been added. On the U.S. Mexico border cars and trucks are coming under extra scrutiny as officers look for radioactive explosive devices.

“Everybody entering the United States, every vehicle and every person, will passively be screened for radiation.”

While Security is heightened in the United States, authorities in Saudi Arabia brace for another possible attack as they pore over evidence from last week’s bombings at residential compounds in Riyadh. Thirty-four people including eight Americans were killed in the bombings. Saudi authorities blame al-Qaida for those attacks.

Meanwhile in Belgium security was tight at the courthouse where prosecutors opened their case against 21 people suspected of being al-Qaida members and sympathizers. Some of the men are accused of plotting to bomb U.S. targets in Europe and the murder of an anti Taleban leader in Afghanistan before the September 11th attacks.