Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Strength of Al Qaeda

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Strength of Al Qaeda

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT FOX

THE detonation of the bombs in Istanbul today is the most elaborate co-ordinated terrorist attack since September 11 two years ago. There is every likelihood the same hand is behind both outrages - Osama bin Laden.

The explosions come five days after the suicide bombings of two synagogues in Istanbul, once the grand capital of imperial Turkey and today a commercial hub of the Mediterranean.

They were also timed to get maximum publicity worldwide. The news flashed up on CNN and the BBC just as they were giving live coverage to President Bush departing for a wreath laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey, the most solemn part of his visit to London. This timing suggests that al Qaeda is the most media-savvy terrorist organisation in history.

It is now demonstrating a new strength in being able to fight on several fronts at the same time.

Attacks in Turkey are co-ordinated with the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been identified as the most vulnerable allies of America and Britain in the Middle East.

Concern now must focus on Egypt, the third Middle Eastern ally with a burgeoning population and a seething underclass of malcontents in its cities.

The worry must be compounded by the sickness of President Hosni Mubarak, the 75-year-old president who has yet to find a successor. Authorities quickly identified the suicide bombers involved in the attacks last Saturday as two Turkish men in the their twenties.

Responsibility was claimed by two al Qaeda affiliates, the Abu Hafs al Masri Brigade and a group led by Abu Mohamed al Ablaj, who says he is now an al Qaeda commander. The Turkish interior ministry is treating the claim with caution, though the State Department says it is highly plausible that al Qaeda is the inspiration if not the operating organisation involved. …

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