The Insider: Daily Terrorism Report

A USA Today article reports today that the December 21, 2003 raising of the national threat level to orange — high — was due to specific information from a new intelligence source. Government officials tell USA Today that starting December 5, a source alerted U.S. authorities to al Qaeda's intentions of using explosives on board commercial aircraft, specifically on two Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles around Christmas Day and New Year's. Intelligence officials say the source also alerted them to cities and specific infrastructure as being potential targets, such as Las Vegas and nuclear and oil facilities. Between December 21 and January 9, over 15 flights have been either cancelled or disrupted due to what the government saw as credible threats to those flights. The national threat level was lowered back to yellow — elevated — on January 9, 2004.

Plus, an article on the arrest before Christmas of a terror suspect in Britain — an Algerian asylum seeker believed to have links to al Qaeda was planning a suicide operation and had written his family notes talking of his plans to "martyr" himself, a British paper reported this weekend. The suspect had shaved off his body hair, the paper reported, in a religious act, one that potential suicide bombers practice as an effort to be "clean" before entering heaven.



United States Source Gave U.S. Details of New Plot The nation's recent Code Orange terror alert was triggered by a new U.S. intelligence source that, for the first time since the 9/11 attacks, allowed officials to get specifics about how al Qaeda was planning to use international flights for imminent attacks in the USA, four top government officials say. (USA Today)

Terror Threat Level Still "High" At Eight U.S. Airports The United States is keeping eight airports and other unspecified facilities on high alert for terrorist attack, after lowering the general threat level to "elevated" from "high." (AFP)

U.S. Launches Hunt for Al Qaeda's Bombmaker U.S. intelligence agencies have launched a worldwide manhunt for al Qaeda's master bombmaker, who, they contend, may be building a "dirty" bomb and other new devices for terror attacks inside the U.S., a media report has said. (Times of India)

U.S. to Push Airlines for Passenger Records Information will be fed into databases to assess security risk. Airlines and privacy advocates criticize proposal. (Washington Post)

Passenger's Bomb Threat Diverts Plane to Dulles An American Airlines commuter flight scheduled to land at Reagan National Airport yesterday was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport after a passenger handed a flight attendant a threatening note in which he demanded to be flown to Australia, officials said. (Washington Post)

United Kingdom Report: U.K. Police Arrest Man in Suicide Bomb Plan British police arrested a man before Christmas who was suspected of preparing himself for a suicide bombing and who had links to al Qaeda, the Sunday Times newspaper said. (Reuters)

France Al Qaeda Terror Plot Foiled, Say French Police The French police are convinced that their country has escaped a planned chemical or biological attack by an Islamist cell linked to al Qaeda. (The Guardian)

Suspect-Name Traveler a No-Show A passenger with a name similar to a suspected al Qaeda operative wanted by the United States has failed to turn up for a flight from Paris to Los Angeles for the second time in three weeks, airport officials said today. (AFP)

West Africa U.S. Sends Anti-Terror Team to W. Africa U.S. sends anti-terror team to West Africa after receiving information on terror threats. (AP)

Pakistan Musharraf Attack Key Suspect, 10 Others Arrested A notorious terrorist, belonging to a militant religious group, and 10 others have been arrested in connection with the car bomb attack on President Pervez Musharraf on Dec. 25, officials in Islamabad said. (Arab News)

Pakistan Denies U.S. Pressure for Anti-Terror Operation Pakistan Monday denied there is any pressure from the United States for launching a major operation against suspected al-Qaeda militants in the country's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. (Xinhuanet)

Saudi Arabia Saudi TV to Air Terrorist Confessions Tonight At 9:30 p.m. local time, Saudi TV Channel One will air the confessions of a number of people who were involved in last year's bombings in the Saudi Arabia. (Asharq Al Awsat)

Riyadh, Pressing Ahead With Terror Crackdown, Swaps Militants With Rabat Saudi Arabia, engaged in a crackdown on Islamist extremists blamed for a string of bombings, said it had extradited two Moroccan militants to Rabat in exchange for three Saudis jailed in Morocco on al Qaeda linked charges. (AFP)

Germany 'Fog of War' Plan to Protect N-Plants The German government has proposed using an instant "fog shield" to protect its vulnerable nuclear power stations from airborne terrorist attacks. (The Guardian)


Afghanistan 100 Now Killed in Afghan Military Campaign U.S. soldier's accidental death brings casualty count in Afghanistan campaign to 100. (AP)

'Taliban Refuses to Negotiate with U.S A statement allegedly issued by the Taliban claimed that Mullah Omar refused any negotiations with the U.S. and fired Mullah Saber, one of his leading officials, because he accepted an initiative to negotiate with American forcers to stop the fighting in Afghanistan. (Asharq Al Awsat)

United States Study Published by Army Criticizes War on Terror's Scope A scathing new report published by the Army War College broadly criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism, accusing it of taking a detour into an "unnecessary" war in Iraq. (Washington Post)

For the full report: Army War College Report

Tape Shows General Clark Linking Iraq and Al Qaeda Less than a year before he entered the race for the Democratic nomination for president, Gen. Wesley K. Clark said that he believed there was a connection between the Iraqi government and al Qaeda. (NY Times)

Saudi Arabia Perle: Saudis Qualify for 'Axis of Evil' Saudi press blasts Perle's axis of evil comparison, warns Washington's own interests are being damaged. (Middle East Online)


United States U.S. Indicts Saudi Student Internet allegedly used to aid terrorist groups in jihad. (Washington Post)

High Court to Weigh Detention of Citizens 'Enemy Combatant' case is accepted. (Washington Post)

Judges Order City to Release More Records About 9/11 A state appeals court has ordered New York City to grant expanded public access to records about its response to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. (NY Times)

Guantanamo Bay Camp Delta Briton Claims Racial Abuse Guards at Guantanamo Bay are racially abusing inmates by calling them "ragheads" and "camel-riders", the family of a British detainee claims. (The Guardian)

Fate of Guantanamo Bay Britons to Be Resolved in Weeks Two years to the day after the United States opened its controversial Guantanamo Bay jail in Cuba, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the fate of nine Britons held there would be resolved in weeks. (AFP)

Guantanamo Condemned Two Years on Human Rights Watch has denounced the U.S. government for continuing to hold prisoners without charge at its base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. (BBC)

Human Rights Watch Report: Guantanamo Two Years On (Human Rights Watch)

Jordan Two Iraqi Terror Suspects Plead Not Guilty-Paper Two Iraqis held in Jordan on charges of plotting to carry out "terrorist attacks" on U.S. and Israeli targets in the kingdom have pleaded not guilty, the Jordan Times newspaper reported on Monday. (Reuters)

Pakistan Pakistan Toughens Punishments For Financiers of Terror Networks Pakistan has toughened its punishments for terror financiers, raising the maximum jail term from five to 10 years, in the government's latest move to combat terrorism, a top official said yesterday. (AP)


Ex-Aide: U.S. Planned Iraq War Pre-9/11 Former Treasury Secretary O'Neill says U.S. planned Iraq invasion days after Bush took office. (AP)

Blair: WMD May Never Be Found PM shows first doubts on central reason for war; asked was he wrong on WMD, he says: 'I don't know.' (The Guardian)

Insurgents Downed Copter in Iraq, Army Says A U.S. Army helicopter that crashed this week west of Baghdad, killing four crew members and five passengers, was shot down by insurgents, U.S. officials said Saturday. (Washington Post)

U.S. Seizes Weapons Cache in Iraq U.S. seizes weapons cache in Iraq; top Shiite cleric demands parliament elections. (AP)

Direct Election of Iraq Assembly Pushed by Cleric The most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq said Sunday that members of an interim assembly had to be chosen through direct elections. Americans had proposed caucus-style polls. (NY Times)

Attacks Down 22% Since Saddam's Capture Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq have dropped 22% in the four weeks since Saddam Hussein's capture, military records show. (USA Today)

British Troops Under Attack After Six Iraqis Shot Dead Hundreds of Iraqis pelted British soldiers with stones yesterday for the second day running, following earlier clashes in the town of Amara, 230 miles south-east of Baghdad, in which six Iraqis were shot dead. (The Guardian)

U.S. Military Searches for Gulf War Pilot Military search crews trying to determine fate of navy pilot shot down in first Gulf War. (AP)

Iraqis Revise Policy on Ex-Baath Members Thousands may lose their jobs, but procedures for appeals are strengthened. (Washington Post)

U.S. Using Turkey Base for Troop Changes The American military has begun using an air base in southern Turkey for a massive rotation of troops in and out of Iraq, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Sunday, in a sign of improved U.S.-Turkish relations. (AP)

Hutton: Spy Chiefs Face Reform Over Iraq Fiasco A massive shake-up of the way the government handles secret intelligence is to be launched in the wake of the Hutton inquiry. (The Observer)

Former Iraqi FM to Live in Jordan? Nagy Sabri, the former Iraqi foreign minister, is currently in secret contact with Jordanian officials, through Iraqis who live in the Jordan, to secure a permanent residence in the country, according to Jordanian diplomatic sources who spoke to the Arab news website Elaph. (Elaph)


Guantanamo Bay: Two Years Too Many A U.S. diplomat has hinted that British prisoners in Camp Delta may soon be repatriated. That's too little too late for human rights campaigners. (The Observer)

Terror Policy: Between Fear and Freedom In the days of relative calm before the nation went to "code orange" last month, Asa Hutchinson, the Bush administration's point man for border protection, was being briefed once a day on whatever terrorism threats were lurking. (NY Times)

Terror War 'Could Last 50 Years' The war on terror could last up to 50 years, a senior UK intelligence officer has warned. (BBC)

Book Review: "Al Qaeda's Strategy and Bombings: The Mistakes and the Dangers" Asharq Al Awsat reviews the book published by the leaders of the Egyptian Al Gama'a al Islamiya, where they criticize al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for having a distorted view of reality and for basing their arguments on a perceived war between Muslims and "Jews and Crusaders." Al Gama'a al Islamiya was in the past responsible for bombings and violent acts in Egypt, but a few years ago the group reviewed its ideology and renounced violence. (Asharq Al Awsat)

Al Qaeda Hunt Follows Old Tracks U.S. troops on the Afghan side of the border have two simple rules to follow: don't cross over, and radio the Pakistan army first before shooting at any suspected al Qaeda militant spotted over there. (Reuters)

The Risky Business of Security Have we actually benefited from the boom in intelligence 'experts'? (The Guardian)

'Spinning Into Control' The strategic reason for crushing Saddam was to reverse the tide of global terror that incubated in the Middle East. Is our pre-emptive policy working? Was the message sent by ousting the Baathists as well as the Taliban worth the cost? (NY Times)

Kurds' Soft Sell for a Hard-Won Autonomy It is a maxim of politics that territorial autonomy is begrudgingly conceded by central authorities and ungratefully received by those to whom it is granted. That's one way to understand what is happening in Kurdistan, or what some still call northern Iraq. (LA Times)

Fingerprinting Visitors President Reagan's axiom for dealing with the Soviet Union — "trust, but verify" — has found a fitting new use in the Homeland Security Department. (CS Monitor)

Refereeing in Hell GIs are dying. Rival factions are turning on each other. After freeing Iraq, can we keep it from coming apart? (Newsweek)

Can Cross-Border Terrorism End? The reduction in cross-border terrorism from PoK is critically linked to the reduction of violence against unarmed civilians by security personnel in the Valley itself. (Times of India)

Inside the A-Bomb Bazaar Evidence mounts that Pakistani scientists sold nuclear know-how to a triad of rogue nations. (Time)

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.