EXCLUSIVE: Iranian President Ducks Charges That Iran Is Arming Iraqi Insurgents

Bamako: Jihadists recruited in Spain are being trained in handling arms and explosives in the deserts of the Sahel, the arid, semi-desert region of Africa which extends fron the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. In Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, Bin-Ladin has established a training base for Al-Qa'idah and its Algerian allies of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, according to European and US secret services. Bin-Ladin has met his objective of having a base in Africa close to Europe from which to attack it. In the huge, chaotic market around the Grand Mosque in Bamako, a place swarming with thousands of Malians, there are few hijabs (Islamic headscarves) and it is hard to find a woman covering herself with a burka. But the picture changes in towns and villages in northern Mali like Kidal, Tombouctou and Gao and signs of fundamentalism appear. What is happening in Mali, one of the world's poorest countries? Why is there talk of jihad among some Arabs and Tuaregs? Reports from European and US intelligence services say that this gigantic oasis has become the new rest and training base of Al-Qa'idah and its Algerian associates in the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), a breakaway group of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Bin-ladin now has one of his most longed-for dreams: a loyal ally in africa and a base close to europe from which to prepare fresh attacks. (Translated by World News Connection)

Original Article: Al Qaeda Entrena En El Desierto Del Sahel A 'Yihadistas' Reclutados En España
(El Pias)

Train Bombing Case Set To Open In Madrid

One of Europe's biggest terrorism cases begins this week with the trial of a group of Islamists and Spaniards accused of involvement in the Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people three years ago. (Sydney Morning Herald)

How the Madrid Train Bombing Trial Will Work

Twenty-nine people charged in connection with the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004 will go on trial on Feb. 15. (Reuters)

FRANCE

Secret French Report Warns Against Attacks in France During Presidential Elections

A secret French intelligence report recently submitted to the government warned against an al Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in the country during the upcoming presidential elections, according to al Hayat newspaper. The report says al Qaeda wants to repeat "the Spanish scenario" - in reference to the March 2004 Madrid train attacks – to affect the election results. The report cites four factors believed to support the theory that al Qaeda is determined to attack France, including Europeans fighting in Iraq being asked to return to their home countries, Europeans training in camps along the Afghani-Pakistani border and in Kashmir and finally – and most dangerously as the report points out – Moroccan networks association with a militant Algerian that recently joined al Qaeda. Al Hayat also published a undated letter allegedly written by Osama bin Laden to a member of the mentioned Algerian group about targeting France. (Al Hayat)

SOMALIA

Heavy Blasts Rock Somali Capital

Three people have been killed and several wounded during six explosions in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. (BBC)

ANALYSIS & OPINION

Who Will Blink First, the US or Iran?

By Michael Young

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