Saudi, U.S. Officials Warn of New Attacks - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5-20-03

Saudi, U.S. Officials Warn of New Attacks

May 20— The FBI has warned that al Qaeda could launch new attacks in the United States or against U.S. interests overseas as ABCNEWS has learned that Osama bin Laden's terror network is replenishing and has been training operatives in the Republic of Georgia.

In a sign that al Qaeda may be adopting new tactics, the terror trainees are being smuggled into Europe, sources told ABCNEWS.

Responding to growing warnings of imminent attacks in the oil-rich Gulf state, the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia today announced that it would close some missions in the kingdom on Wednesday.

"In response to information that some strikes may be imminent, the embassy and consulates general in [the Saudi cities of] Jeddah and Dhahran will be closed on May 21, 2003," said a statement released by the embassy in Riyadh. Following weekly holidays, the facilities would not reopen before May 25, the statement added.

While President Bush and the FBI have repeatedly stressed that al Qaeda is being dismantled, terrorist attacks last week in Saudi Arabia indicate that the terror group is still active — and authorities in London, Paris, Madrid and Washington are predicting more attacks.

In the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador to the United States told reporters late Monday that Saudi intelligence had reported a "high level of chatter regionally and in other international spots" about possible attacks in Saudi Arabia or America.

"My gut feeling tells me something big is going to happen here or in America," said Prince Bandar.

The Saudi assessment appeared to be corroborated by U.S. intelligence this week. In a bulletin dispatched to state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States, the FBI also warned that "attacks against U.S. and Western targets overseas are likely" and "attacks in the United States cannot be ruled out."

Although al Qaeda's operation has been crippled by the U.S.-led war on terrorism, it has shifted its tactics and taken on new commanders and adopted new routes of travel, ABCNEWS has learned.

From new training camps in Georgia, sources told ABCNEWS, al Qaeda operatives are being smuggled across the Black Sea before settling into safe houses in Turkey.

Employees of these safe houses do not hesitate to protect these al Qaeda operatives. "I'm not going to call police against Hezbollah, al Qaeda," one desk clerk at the Interyouth Hostel in Turkey told ABCNEWS' Brian Ross. "I don't do this."

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