Not just America's problem

Europe | Never mind the anti-war posturing: European governments, investigating and prosecuting terror suspects, are taking their war-on-terrorism responsibilities seriously

Issue: "BMOC: Big mandate on campus," Sept. 14, 2002

With the anniversary of terrorist attacks in the United States, it is dawning on Europeans that it's their war, too. And Old World hawks are rising. British defense secretary Geoff Hoon planned a 9/11 meeting in Washington with U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Journalists billed it as a "war summit" on Iraq. Conservatives in Britain crossed the aisle to support Prime Minister Tony Blair's call for "regime change" in Iraq. Ian Duncan Smith, leader of the Conservative Party, said Brits should be concerned about the direct threat Saddam Hussein poses to them rather than "superficial and misleading" debates about U.S. plans.

"Those who genuinely seek evidence in support of potential military action in Iraq will find there is plenty of it; those who oppose intervention at all costs will never find enough," wrote Mr. Smith in London's Sunday Times.

While the Bush and Blair camps brief lawmakers and the public on the Iraqi threat and its links to terrorism, recent breakthroughs from European probes into al-Qaeda are showing Europeans they are at risk, too. Polls show six out of 10 Europeans support an invasion of Iraq as the next step in the War on Terror.

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Among the developments:

  • Germany indicted Morrocan Mounir el-Motassadeq on charges of conspiring with 9/11 hijackers. Mr. Motassadeq is only the second person in the world (Zacarias Moussaoui, who faces charges in the United States, is the other) to be directly charged in the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. As friend and consort to the 9/11 hijackers based in Hamburg, Mr. Motassadeq managed their finances and arranged wire transfers to them while they attended flight school in the United States.
    Germany's widening investigation has confirmed that Mohammed Atta and at least three other 9/11 hijackers visited an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in November 1999. It also uncovered evidence that al-Qaeda began to plan the attacks in 1998, only months after bin LadenÐdirected terrorists bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Swedish authorities are stepping up an investigation of suspected hijacker Kerim Chatty, arrested with a loaded gun before boarding a flight to London last week to attend an Islamic conference. Mr. Chatty became a radical Muslim about four years ago at the same time he attended flight school in the United States. Although he flunked out of the South Carolina program, investigators say they believe he planned to fly the Ryanair Boeing 737 into an American embassy in Europe.
  • Four men held in Holland-two Algerians, one Frenchman, and one Dutchman-now stand accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. embassy in Paris, as well as a U.S. military base in Belgium (1,600 U.S. troops are based in Belgium). The new charges against the four, held since late last year, also coincide with Dutch arrests last week of seven men accused of recruiting for al-Qaeda and providing financial aid to the terrorist network.


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