Middle East on alert for fear of attacks during Christmas
Fresh evidence has emerged that "terrorists" may be planning attacks against Western targets in Turkey during the upcoming holidays, according to a police document, while Americans and Britons living abroad were strongly warned to keep a "low profile".
The threats Tuesday of new attacks followed a decision by the Bush administration earlier this week to raise the terror alert level to orange on new fears that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network could stage a major attack soon at home or abroad.
Based partly on information from British and Israeli intelligence, the US administration suspects "terrorists" are eyeing the Saudi Kingdom, Kenya, Bahrain, Yemen, Turkey and the United States for attacks during the holiday season.
In the Republic of Yemen, security around embassies was noticeably heightened.
However, perhaps the most chilling warning came in Turkey, where an internal police intelligence document obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday warned that would-be bombers were infiltrating the country to complete preparations for new attacks against Western targets as well as Istanbul's popular Akmerkez shopping mall.
"It is being detected that the preparations for a large-scale third wave of attacks to follow up the suicide bombings has been completed," said the document, which was signed by two high-level police officials, including the head of the Istanbul security department.
"Some of those who will carry out the attacks entered Turkey from Syria, and the others were preparing to enter," it said.
Meanwhile, in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, westerners were keeping a low profile Wednesday. "Everybody is aware that there is a terrorist threat and Christmas time would be a more active period for the terrorists to do something," said Richard May, manager of the Seder Village compound in Riyadh, which has been named by the US and British embassies as a possible target.
"Nobody is panicking, but it would be foolish to say that people don't have concerns," May said on Wednesday. "There are concerns and everybody is being extremely cautious and vigilant."
In the Kingdom of Bahrain, the US Embassy in Manama warned that it had received information about a possible "terrorist attack" during the holidays and warned Americans to avoid places where Westerners gather and to reduce unnecessary travel. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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