The Insider: Daily Terrorism Report

Pakistani troops have encircled an area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where it is believed that hundreds of militants are trapped in a fierce fight, including perhaps Osama bin Laden's chief deputy and the number two most wanted al Qaeda fugitive, Ayman al Zawahiri, news wires report today. The last four days have resulted in severe gun battles between suspected al Qaeda militants and Pakistani troops; it is reported that at least 41 people — 15 soldiers and 26 suspected militants — were killed earlier this week in fighting in the area. While senior Pentagon officials tell ABCNEWS that they do not believe a "high-value target" is in the area, Pakistani military and intelligence authorities have not ruled out the possibility that amongst those trapped in the mountainous cross-border region could be Zawahiri.

And more on the Madrid investigation — five suspects — three Moroccans and two Indians have been accused of terror crimes. The three Moroccans were accused with the murders of 190 people and belonging to a terrorist group and the two Indians with cooperating with a terrorist group. All five deny any involvement in the attack, saying they were sleeping at the time of the train bombings and said they had no link to al Qaeda.

THE WAR ON TERROR

INVESTIGATIONS

Pakistan

Pakistanis May Be Near al Qaeda's No. 2

Pakistani forces battle fighters near border where bin Laden deputy al Zawahri is believed hiding. (AP)

Fifteen Pakistani Soldiers Killed in Offensive

Fifteen Pakistani soldiers have been killed in heavy fighting with a group of fighters, possibly including a top al Qaeda member, on the Afghan border. (Al Jazeera)

Suspects Arrested Near Pakistan Border

'Semi-senior' suspects arrested near border As Afghan, U.S. troops tighten cordon in al Qaeda hunt. (AP)

Pakistan Hits Villages Seeking Al Qaeda

Thousands of Pakistani army reinforcements were joining a major offensive Friday in tribal villages where al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al Zawahri, is believed surrounded. Across the border, Afghan authorities reported the arrests of "semi-senior" terrorist leaders. (AP)

Taliban Spokesman: Bin Laden, Al Zawahiri Safe in Afghanistan

Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahri are safe and in Afghanistan, not neighboring Pakistan where an intense manhunt is under way, a Taliban spokesman said on Friday. (AFP)

Spain

Suspects Accused of Spain Terror, Deny Qaeda Link

Three Moroccan and two Indian men held in connection with the Madrid train bombings were accused of terror crimes Friday, but said they were asleep at the time and had no links with al Qaeda, court sources said. (Reuters)

Spain Releases Intelligence Reports

Spanish government releases intelligence reports on bombings to refute charges it lied. (AP)

United States

House Doubles Reward for Capture of Bin Laden

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to double a reward — to 50 million dollars — for the capture of terrorist Osama bin Laden. (AFP)

Egypt

Egypt Takes Custody of Sons of Suspected Militants

Egypt has detained three extradited sons of Muslim militant leaders, one of them the son of a senior member of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, a London-based Islamist said on Thursday. (Reuters)

Al Zawahri's Mother Visits Other Son in Prison

Ayman Al Zawahri's mother was allowed to visit her other son Mohammed at a high security prison in Cairo. The mother had thought Mohammed was dead as he was sentenced to death until she found out a few weeks ago that he's still in prison. (Asharq Al Awsat)

Yemen/Saudi Arabia

Sanaa and Riyadh to Exchange 18 Terror Suspects

In the next two days, Saudi Arabia will hand over to Yemen, 13 of its nationals who are wanted on terror-related charges, including one "dangerous terrorist," in exchange for five wanted Saudis, Yemeni officials revealed. (AFP)

COUNTER TERRORISM

Europe

Big States Back Idea of 'Tsar' to Lead War On Terrorism

Europe's biggest countries have thrown their weight behind the appointment of a special counter-terrorism chief who would co-ordinate all intelligence, security and financial measures taken in the European Union to combat terrorism. (Financial Times)

EU Ministers Hold Emergency Terror Talks

Eight days after the Madrid train bombings, European Union justice and interior ministers on Friday were set to approve an ``anti-terror czar'' to coordinate the EU's fight against terrorism. (AP)

U.S.

Addressing the Unthinkable, U.S. Revives Study of Fallout

To cope with the possibility of a terrorist nuclear attack, the federal government is reviving the scientific art of fallout analysis. (NY Times)

Plan to Nab Bin Laden Stymied

A Pentagon planner drafted a top secret battle plan for pre-emptively attacking Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, but his recommendations never reached then-Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, say defense and former Clinton administration officials. (Washington Times)

LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS

U.K.

U.K. Loses Appeal to Keep Terror Suspect in Jail

Britain's Appeal Court ordered the government to free a Libyan terror suspect on Thursday, upholding the first defeat of emergency, post-September 11 powers to hold foreigners without charge. (Reuters)

ON THE WEB

New Book by Wanted Al Qaeda Suspect Predicts America's Downfall

A new book published online by the Center for Islamic Studies and Research and written by a wanted Saudi terror suspect called Faris Al Zahrany discusses the elements which the writer believes will lead to the downfall of the U.S. Al Zahray, who writes using the name Abu Jandal Al Azady, is on the Saudi most wanted terrorist list. The 148-page book studies the history of the U.S. in length and argues that factors that include al Qaeda's war on the U.S., its hatred around the world, as well as domestic problems will eventually lead to America's downfall. The book also discusses different al Qaeda attacks and even lists the recent Madrid train attacks amongst them. It also talks in detail about the preparations for the 9/11 attacks and their effects. (ABCNEWS Investigative Unit)

THE WAR IN IRAQ

10 Iraqis are Killed in Spasm of Attacks Arabic-TV journalist slain by U.S. troops. (Washington Post)

Polish President Says He Was 'Misled' On Iraq Arms

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a key backer of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, said yesterday his country was "misled" by Bush administration claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but insisted the world was still better off with the ouster of Saddam Hussein. (Washington Times)

S. Korea Won't Send Troops to Iraqi City

S. Korea cancels plan to send troops to Iraq, citing U.S. pressure on 'offensive operations.' (AP)

Powell Makes Surprise Visit to Baghdad

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a surprise visit to Iraq's capital today and marked the start of the war in Iraq about one year ago. (NY Times)

Arab Journalists Stage Powell Walk-Out

Arab journalists on Friday walked out of a news conference held by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to protest the shooting deaths of two Iraqi reporters, allegedly by U.S. troops. (AP)

Alleged Al Qaeda Official Claims Responsibility for Hotel Bombing

In an email to Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, Abu Mohammad al Ablaj, an alleged al Qaeda official who had communicated through email with another Arab magazine in the past, claimed responsibility for the bombing of Baghdad's Mount Lebanon Hotel Wednesday night. Al Ablaj also claimed al Qaeda was not behind the attacks on the Shiites and stressed that they are not a target. (Asharq Al Awsat)

Hussein's Fund Thefts Higher Than Estimated

Saddam Hussein's government illegally obtained more than $10 billion in revenue related to the United Nations' oil-for-food program, about $3.5 billion more than previously thought, a congressional committee was told Thursday. (LA Times)

Galloway Demands Inquiry

MP demands government inquiry after US newspaper which falsely accused him of accepting $10m from Saddam Hussein apologizes. (The Guardian)

ANALYSIS & OPINION

Zawahiri: Bin Laden's Top Lieutenant and Al Qaeda's Intellectual

Ayman al Zawahiri, the al Qaeda deputy leader who the Pakistani military believes it has cornered in a village near the Afghan border, is Osama bin Laden's closest aide and personal doctor. (AFP)

U.S. vs. Europe: Two Views of Terror

Ever since George W. Bush's first reaction to Sept. 11 was that this is "war," debate has simmered over whether fighting terrorism is best handled as a military operation or as law-enforcement, using intelligence cooperation, police work, and the courts. (CS Monitor)

If the West Dances When Al Qaeda Acts, the Terrorists Win

It is wrong to think Madrid proves the perils of fraternizing with America. (The Age — Australia)

The Middle East Doesn't Need This Peace Plan

If the aim of the al Qaeda terrorist is to create a great division between Islam and the West — and I believe that this is their most deep-rooted — then Western leaders are marching straight into the divide. (The Independent)

Like It or Not, the West Just Can't Leave the Middle East

The dreams of al Qaeda and its allies are destructive — but doomed. (The Guardian)

One Year After

One year ago, President Bush began the war in Iraq. If we had known then what we know now, none of this might have happened. (NY Times)

One Year After …

What Iraq gained from the war is the fact that it got rid of a despotic regime. (Al Hayat)

Bush's Distortions Misled Congress in Its War Vote

A year ago, the United States went to war in Iraq because President Bush and his administration convinced Congress and the country that Saddam Hussein was an urgent threat that required immediate military action. The nation has paid a high price for that decision ever since. (LA Times)

Voices On Iraq: One Year On

Noam Chomsky, Hans von Sponeck, Tim Trevan and George Galloway on the one-year anniversary of the conflict. (The Guardian)

The Insider Daily Terrorism Report (DTR) is a summary of major news articles and broadcasts relating to international terrorism and the war in Iraq. The DTR is edited from foreign and U.S. sources by Chris Isham, Hoda Osman, and Brinda Adhikari of the ABCNEWS Investigative Unit. The outside views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ABCNEWS.

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