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News Briefs

Plans for Terrorist Chemical Attacks in Europe Foiled

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- SPIEZ, SWITZERLAND

As the United States focuses on Osama bin Laden’s suspected efforts to obtain chemical weapons, European authorities say they have uncovered evidence of plans for chemical attacks by North African terror groups loosely affiliated with bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization.

Officials say the groups are trained by al-Qaida and are tied to terrorists involved in the foiled 1999 Los Angeles International Airport bomb plot and other conspiracies from Canada to Eastern Europe.

One plan to test a poison gas weapon in France was disrupted by European intelligence agents in March, officials said. The foiled test was an apparent prelude to unspecified future attacks.

The terrorists wanted to try out what they called “the product” -- a vapor that suffocates victims when inhaled. Authorities believe the product was hydrogen cyanide, a potentially lethal substance commonly used in metallurgy and gas chambers.

In a conversation secretly tape-recorded by Italian counterterror investigators, one of the plotters declared: “We have to be like snakes. We have to strike and then hide.”

Khatami Sees Negative Outcome If Taliban Is Forced Out

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- NEW YORK

IRAN’S PRESIDENT MOHAMMAD KHATAMI WARNED MONDAY THAT FORCING

THE TALIBAN OUT OF KABUL OR ENDING ITS RULE ALTOGETHER PROBABLY WOULD

NOT END THE FIGHTING -- OR THE TALIBAN’S PRESENCE -- IN AFGHANISTAN.

“Even if the Taliban is ousted in Kabul, I’m sorry to say, my feeling is that Afghanistan will enter into a period of long warfare,” he told a small group of reporters at a breakfast meeting.

The Taliban almost surely would launch a guerrilla war from the mountains and caves of Afghanistan, targeting opposition forces, a new government and any foreign presence deployed to help return order to the war-ravaged country, he predicted.

Iran is particularly sensitive about the ongoing conflict because it has the second-longest border with Afghanistan, after Pakistan. Iran’s position on Afghan issues is considered pivotal to a peaceful resolution, in part because, along with Russia and India, it is among the three largest backers of the Northern Alliance.

British to Release More Evidence Pointing to Bin Laden

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The British government plans to release additional evidence Wednesday implicating Osama bin Laden in the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, British and U.S. officials said Monday.

The officials said the new dossier, which updates a bill of particulars laid out by Prime Minister Tony Blair on Oct. 4, will rely heavily on statements bin Laden has made in videotapes since military strikes began hitting Afghanistan. Some of the tapes have not been publicly released, the officials said.

The new white paper will also include information about past terrorist activity that bin Laden is accused of backing, the officials said.

“The case against bin Laden is airtight, but it’s important to keep communicating that,” a White House official said Monday. “Every time bin Laden speaks, his isolation only grows.”

As with the previous report, the new information will come from the British government, which has consulted with U.S. officials.