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12/27/02 - CRACKING DOWN ON TERRORISTS - 2002-12-27

On December 16th, French police arrested a French citizen, two Algerians, and a Moroccan they believe were planning chemical weapons attacks on people in Britain during the Christmas and New Year holidays. The suspects are said to have links to an al-Qaida terrorist cell in Frankfurt, Germany. During their search of the suspects' Paris suburb apartment, police found iron perchloride, a substance used in chemical weapons. They also found a nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare protection suit, false identity documents, and some five-thousand dollars in cash. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told parliament that the suspects had spent time with Islamic extremists in Chechnya.

Two days after the arrests in Paris, British police arrested seven North African men suspected of providing money and other support to al-Qaida. One of the suspects, Rabah Kadre, had links to those arrested by the French. Kadre and two of his associates have been charged with "possession of articles for the preparation, instigation, and commission of terrorist acts."

Other terrorist groups are also feeling the heat. Canada has added Hezbollah and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P-K-K, to its list of terrorist organizations. Hezbollah is a Lebanese-based and Iranian-supported Islamic terrorist group and has long used Canada as a base. Israeli authorities recently arrested Fawzi Ayub, a Toronto-based Hezbollah operative sent to Israel to organize terrorist attacks. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Hezbollah terrorists in Canada stole cars to finance the procurement of false identification and military equipment.

The addition of Hezbollah and the P-K-K bring to sixteen the number of groups banned under Canada's new anti-terrorism law. The need for stepped-up security was made dramatically clear after al-Qaida terrorist Ahmed Ressam was foiled in an attempt to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in December 1999. Ressam entered Canada with a false passport in 1994. He had lived in Canada as an Algerian refugee claimant.

Terrorists like Hezbollah and al-Qaida seek to take advantage of the freedom of Western democracies, including the United States, to organize, fund, and carry out attacks on democracy itself. As President George W. Bush said, "Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. . . . We choose freedom and the dignity of every life."