Al Qaeda Message Traffic
Back Up To Pre-911 Rate

By David Crossland

BERLIN (Reuters) - Western spies have detected a resumption of the intense communication among Islamic activists last seen in the months before the September 11 attacks, a senior Western intelligence source said on Thursday.
The source said Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network had regained strength and was signaling its capability in recent statements broadcast on Qatar's al-Jazeera television station.
"The al Qaeda network's ability to take action has increased and it is signaling this to its followers through an increasing number of messages over al-Jazeera," the senior source, who declined to be identified, told Reuters in an interview.
In October alone, al-Jazeera broadcast two statements claiming to be from bin Laden, threatening more attacks on the United States and praising recent attacks on the French-flagged tanker Limburg and on U.S. troops training on a Kuwaiti island.
One statement came in the form of a voice recording broadcast by al-Jazeera, while the other was in text form, on a fax sent to the station.
The last bin Laden video emerged in April, undated, and was a warning to the United States it would not feel safe until Palestinians enjoyed peace.
"Parallel to this there has been heightened communications activity among Islamic activists. The result has been an increase in information from intelligence sources that is similar to the picture of summer 2001," the source said.
"The problem remains that the concrete target and concrete date are unknown."
The source's comments follow repeated warnings from U.S. officials that al Qaeda has regrouped and is planning another attack. The remarks also suggest intelligence services are giving credence to al Qaeda broadcasts on al-Jazeera.
"The terrorist threat to the Western world, including to Germany, is unabated," the source said.
Fears have grown that Germany might become an al Qaeda target because the country is holding the world's first trial of a suspect accused of aiding last year's suicide hijacking attacks on the United States that killed more than 3,000 people.
Germany is also taking part in the U.S.-led fight against Islamic extremists, agreeing last year to dispatch up to 4,000 troops, including some elite troops from its "KSK" unit which are believed to have been involved in combat in Afghanistan.
CIA Director George Tenet said recently that al Qaeda has reorganized, was in an "execution phase" and intended to attack Americans overseas and on U.S. soil, amid a threat atmosphere as serious as in the months before September 11.
U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge will visit Europe next week to bolster defenses against attacks. He warned on Thursday that future terror attacks on the United States were inevitable but that the rest of the world was also vulnerable.
Bomb blasts on the Indonesian island of Bali this month killed at least 184 people, many of them Western tourists, and revived fears of random attacks. No one claimed responsibility.


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