Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bin Laden Men Open Up a New Front in Jihad against the US; WAR ON TERROR: ANALYSIS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bin Laden Men Open Up a New Front in Jihad against the US; WAR ON TERROR: ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT FOX

THE devastating Riyadh bomb attack indicates that al Qaeda-inspired terrorism is now in a new and more complex phase.

The multiple attacks across the Saudi capital yesterday required elaborate planning, on a scale not seen since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001.

The attacks show that al Qaeda and its affiliates can operate without the direct control of Osama bin Laden and his strategists, many of whom have been arrested in Pakistan in the past few months. The bombings indicate that the Saudi regime is as much the target as Americans and other foreign nationals.

The bombings also suggest that terrorist campaigns across the region, from Afghanistan, through Iraq and the Gulf to Israel and the Palestinian territories, are now linked.

A few weeks ago, the focus of President George W Bush's "War on Terror" was shifting from al Qaeda to the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, who some Bush advisers were suggesting had become more dangerous than al Qaeda. The FBI and Homeland Defence department were told to hunt for Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas "sleepers" inside the US.

Elsewhere, the governments of Syria and Iran have been told to stop supporting Hezbollah, and the US has called for Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon to be closed.

This week, President Mohammed Khatami of Iran was given a rapturous welcome by Hezbollah and Shi'ite leaders on his first state visit to Lebanon.

Pointedly, a spokesman for Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, said that the organisation would not disarm, as it had the right to defend itself and continue the struggle against Israel.

The Riyadh bombings show that the terrorist movement linked to Bin Laden is now embedded in Saudi Arabia, which the regime has tried to deny or play down - despite the fact that the majority of the September 11 hijackers were from the kingdom. …

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