Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Terrorism 'spreading beyond Iraq'

Al-Qaeda in Iraq may be spreading its influence beyond the borders of this war torn country. Last week saw a return of a significant number of car and suicide bombings within Iraq, but outside its territory there were a number of incidents which bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.
In Lebanon, violence broke out between Fatah al-Islam and Lebanese security forces. Many experts say the group has strong links with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Meanwhile Turkey saw its first terror attack in several months initially blamed on Islamic extremists. The bombing targeted a shopping mall in a tourist area of Ankara killing at least 6 and injuring more than 100. The bombing was later said to have been launched by a PKK suicide bomber, Guven Akkus [BBC]. Turkey has been hit by several bombings in recent years. Some have been blamed on Kurds and others on Islamic militants. In November 2003, more than 60 people were killed by a series of suicide bombings in Istanbul which the authorities linked to al-Qaeda. Kurdish rebels also carried out a number of attacks on tourist sites in Turkey last year, killing more than a dozen people.
The al-Qaeda threat to surrounding countries appears to have been the impetus for persuading the Iranians to come to Iraq along with US officials to discuss the security situation in the country.

During the talks the violence continued outside. More than 20 died and at least 66 were injured in a Baghdad car bombing. The blast also damaged an important Sunni mosque.
CNN in a report Monday suggested that al-Qaeda in Iraq were sending trained terrorists to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen in order to spread its terror campaign. Dennis Pluchinsky, a former State Dept. Intelligence Analyst, told CNN, “Iraq is a laboratory of tactics and terrorist techniques”. It is clear, at least from claims made, and a certain amount of evidence at attack sites that the Iraqi terror groups are having a wider effect. Three bombings in Amman, Jordan which targeted western hotels have been attributed to the now deceased Zarqawi led al-Qaeda in Iraq terror group [BBC]. An audio tape, purported to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, stated that three members of his group were sent to Jordan to carry out the attacks “against Jews, Crusaders and other enemies of God”. Even before his message, many were convinced al-Qaead were behind the blasts [BBC]. But as the security situation deteriorates in Iraq, it, like Afghanistan in the past, is fast becoming a terrorist training camp from which al-Qaeda and similar groups are launching attacks beyond its borders.
And the battle against the insurgency is far from over. At least 38 died in 2 car bombings Tuesday and on Monday 2 US troops died when their helicopter crashed after coming under fire. A further 8 other troops died when they went to their aid [early reports suggested only 6 had died, but CNN reported that another 2 had been confirmed dead late Tuesday]. It brings the total number of US dead to 3,363 since March 2003. The BBC also reported on Monday that five Britons had been abducted from Iraq’s Finance Ministry in Baghdad.
It was not a good week for British authorities when it emerged that a number or terror suspects on ‘control orders’ had absconded [BBC]. Within days the government were suggesting further ‘draconian’ laws in order to stop terrorism in its tracks. New so called ‘stop and quiz’ terror powers would enable police to stop and question anybody whether or not they had any suspicion or ‘reasonable cause’ to do so [BBC]. The proposals were swiftly condemned by many human rights groups and politicians on all sides [BBC]. Mr Hain, who is in the running to become Labour's deputy leader, told BBC1's Sunday AM programme, "We have got to be very careful that we do not create circumstances that are the domestic equivalent of Guantanamo Bay."
"Guantanamo Bay, which was an international abuse of human rights, acted as a recruiting sergeant for dissidents and alienated Muslims and alienated many other people across the world."
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg warned it would only increase radicalism. The proposals are seen as a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to the authority’s failure to keep hold of the terror suspects who absconded last week. When it emerged on Thursday that three men suspected of wanting to kill UK troops had disappeared, Mr Reid criticised his political opponents and judges for stopping the use of tougher measures against terror suspects. He promised new anti-terror measures and told MPs that the government could consider suspending some parts of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) so it can impose tougher control orders.

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