Friday, August 26, 2005

Al-Qaeda ‘preparing to attack’ Asian city

Al-Qaeda is preparing an attack on a big financial centre in Asia, such as Tokyo, Sydney or Singapore, to undermine investor confidence in the region, France's top terrorist investigator warned yesterday.

Jean-Louis Bruguière told the Financial Times yesterday that several Asian countries were less prepared than the US or Europe for such an attack.

“We are somewhat neglecting the capacity or desire of the al-Qaeda organisation to destabilise the south-east Asia region,” said the respected judge, who has orchestrated the arrests of hundreds of terrorist suspects in the past 20 years.

“We have several elements of information that make us think that countries in this region, especially Japan, could have been targeted,” said Mr Bruguière.

He appears eager to raise public awareness of the growing threat to Asia, which is understood to have emerged from recent intelligence findings.

He argues that some Asian countries have less experience of Islamic terrorists than the US or Europe, making them more complacent about the risk of attack. An attack on an Asian financial centre, such as Tokyo or Sydney, would be symbolically important for al-Qaeda, he said, and designed to throw the region's recent economic boom into doubt.

“An attack on this country [Japan] would have a very serious effect. We forget that the al-Qaeda organisation is sharpening its strategy, more than just focusing on so-called soft targets it is looking to hit economic and financial centres.”

He says Singapore could also be vulnerable to attack, in spite of its efficient intelligenceservices. ~full article

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